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meeting your flexible working obligations

12 December 2018

Flexible working continues to be popular as a means to achieve the ideal work/life balance but what is it and how does it work?

Flexible working is the term used to describe a way of working that suits an employee’s needs better than the employer’s standard arrangements, for example working longer hours on less days or even a change in location.

Employers have to consider requests from all staff with 26 weeks’ service not just those with caring responsibilities and may decide to consider requests from other employees with less service.

Employers have up to three months to consider requests (including appeals) and should have their own policies setting out eligibility and processes:

A written request should be submitted and it should state:

  • It is a statutory request;
  • Information about current and desired working patterns;
  • Start date;
  • Effects the change may have on the business including any solutions on how issues may be overcome;
  • Confirmation of eligibility;
  • Date and detail of any previous request.

If in agreement the employer simply confirms that in writing. If the employer wishes to discuss the request and/or if they need to refuse the request they must meet with the employee. Refusal can be give only on the basis of the following reasons:

  • burden of additional costs;
  • detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
  • inability to reorganise work;
  • inability to recruit additional staff;
  • detrimental impact on quality;
  • detrimental impact on performance;
  • insufficiency of work during the periods requested; and
  • planned changes.

If refusing a request an employer must be able to justify the decision and ensure that it is evidenced that they considered the request fully and looked at ways to overcome the issues. Clear records of investigations carried out should be kept so that these are readily available should the employer need  to provide justification. Finally, the employer should offer the chance to appeal against the decision. Staff cannot make another request for a 12 month period.

The use of flexible working has increased over recent years as the subject of work/life balance continues to be a major issue. Agreeing requests can have a significant impact on employee engagement, retention of staff and can help to reduce absence levels.

This article was originally published by devonlive.com on 11 December 2018. Marie Ashton is a HR Consultant at law firm Browne Jacobson LLP. To find out more contact her via email (marie.ashton@brownejacobson.com) or calling 01392 458721.

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