Deailng with Flexible Working Requests

#HRFridayfact: Employees can make just one application for flexible working in any 12 month period; these can be rejected with good reason

Workers with more than 26 weeks service have a statutory right to make flexible working requests. Employers are obliged to give such requests proper consideration but they can be rejected if the employer has a sound business reason to do so.

Flexible working requests must be made in writing stating the date the request is made and details of the changes to working conditions that are being sought. This might be a reduction of hours to part-time working; a request for job sharing; flexitime or homeworking.

Requests should also include any effects that the changes may have on the business, such as improved efficiency, the date the change would take effect from and details of any previous requests that have been made.

We recommend having a flexible working request form made available to employees to ensure that all the correct information is captured.

Requests must be considered by the employer and a decision made within three months of receipt. If a request is rejected, the employee can appeal the decision and appeals must similarly be considered and decided upon within three months.

It’s good practice to meet with the employee to discuss the flexible working request. The employee is not obliged to disclose the reasons why he or she is making the request, but if it can be discussed then this may lead on to a compromise or whether any alternative courses of action can be considered.

Requests must be given reasonable consideration and can only be rejected if there is a solid business reason for doing so. There is a prescribed list of acceptable reasons for rejection which are:

  • the burden of additional costs
  • an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
  • an inability to recruit additional staff
  • a detrimental impact on quality
  • a detrimental impact on performance
  • detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
  • planned structural changes to the business

If the request is accepted then this will by default result in a permanent change of contractual terms of employment and so a new contract should be issued. It may be worth considering a trial period for the new working arrangements to ensure that they work for both parties before a final commitment is made.

If it is just a temporary arrangement that the employee is looking for however, then other options should be explored before a formal flexible working request is made.

For help and support with flexible working request as, including document templates, call us on 01452 331331 or e-mail

08 September 2017, 12:51