As we move away from the Government’s guidance to work from home wherever possible, we expect to see an increase in formal requests for flexible working. But what does that mean?
Does your employee have a right to flexible working?
A request for flexible working can only be made once every 12 months unless otherwise agreed by the employer.
All employees with at least 26 weeks service employment have the right to request a flexible working arrangement. This doesn’t mean your employee has the right to work flexibly, only that they have the right to request to do so. As an employer you must follow a full and proper procedure to consider whether such a request is reasonable and you must ensure you have a valid business reason for declining such a request.
What is flexible working?
There are many variations of flexible working which may include requests to:
- Reduce the number of hours/days worked per week
- Flexible start/finish time
- Term time working
- Job share
- Work from alternative work locations (e.g. home)
What things should I consider if I receive a flexible working request?
Things to consider if you receive a request include:
- How would the amended arrangements help the employee?
- Is there enough work for the employee to do during the times they wish to work?
- Will the change in working pattern affect others in the team/business? If yes, how?
- Would customer/client service be affected by the change?
- Will the change result in additional costs to the business? (e.g. recruitment fees if additional resource is needed to cover a change in work pattern)
- If the employee’s proposal is not acceptable can a compromise be reached?
For what reasons can I reject a request for flexible working?
You can reject a request for flexible working for any of the following reasons:
- extra costs that will damage the business
- the work cannot be reorganised among other staff
- people cannot be recruited to do the work
- flexible working will affect quality and performance
- the business will not be able to meet customer demand
- there’s a lack of work to do during the proposed working times
- the business is planning changes to the workforce
What process do I need to follow if I receive a flexible working request?
You must consider and respond, in writing, to a flexible working request within 3 months of receiving the request. You may wish to arrange a meeting with the employee to discuss their request and how they feel it will work prior to coming to a decision.
If you do agree to a flexible request, you must ensure you update the employee’s terms and conditions of employment to reflect the change.
The above only provides a summary regarding flexible working as at 21 July 2021 and it is advised that you check the most up to date legislation and obtain professional advice when dealing with a flexible working request.
We are here to help
As we emerge from lockdown and legal restrictions are eased, over the coming months you may find a growing number of queries from your team and more complex areas of HR needing attention such as keeping your contracts of employment up to date, writing and maintaining your employment policies and procedures and handling many other issues you may not have come across before.
If you find that you do need support, please get in touch with our HR experts to chat about your requirements. We can offer a variety of different support packages to suit your business needs and can also provide additional ad-hoc assistance on an hourly basis, as and when you need it. You can find out more on our website here.
For a free initial consultation to discuss your requirements contact Claire Featherstone on 01274 733184 or email email@example.com
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