Introduction

From 30 June 2014, the statutory right to ask to work flexibly has been extended from only parents and carers to cover all eligible employees. Any employee may make a request to work flexibly after 26 weeks employment service. An employee can only make a statutory request once in any 12 month period.  The following is a suggested procedure, based on ACAS guidance, to deal with requests for flexible working. 

Making a request

A request for flexible working from an employee must be in writing and must include the following information:

  • The date of the application, the change to working conditions the employee is seeking and when they would like the change to come into effect.
  • What effect, if any, the employee thinks the requested change will have on the organisation how, in their opinion, any such effect might be dealt with.
  • A statement that the application is a statutory request and if and when the employee has made a previous application for flexible working.
  • If the employee is making their request in relation to the Equality Act 2010, for example, as a reasonable adjustment for a disability.

The written application should be sent to the employee’s line manager.

Once a line manager has received a written request, it should be considered and decided on within a period of three months from first receipt (including any appeal process), unless the line manager agrees with the employee to extend this period.

Meeting to discuss the request

The line manager will arrange to talk with the employee as soon as possible after receiving their written request. The discussion does not have to be face to face and if the line manager and employee agree it can be held by phone or some other way.

At the meeting to consider the request, the employee will be able, if they so wish, to be accompanied by a work colleague. The employee should be informed about the right to be accompanied a reasonable time before the discussion. The right to be accompanied also applies to any subsequent appeal meeting.

At the meeting, the line manager will discuss the request with the employee to clarify what changes the employee is looking for and how they might benefit the organisation and the employee.

Wherever possible the discussion should take place in a private place where what is said will not be overheard.

Making a decision

The line manager will consider the request carefully looking at the benefits of the requested changes in working conditions for the employee and the organisation and weighing these against any adverse business impact of implementing the changes.

Once the line manager has made a decision, the employee will be informed in writing of that decision as soon as possible. The line manager will also inform the employee of the right of appeal and to whom to make the appeal.

If the line manager accepts the employee’s request, or accepts it with modifications, the line manager will discuss with the employee

  • how and when the changes might best be implemented.
  • what changes will be made to the employee’s terms and conditions.

If the line manager rejects the request it must be for one of the following business reasons as set out in the legislation:

  • 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
  • a detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
  • a planned structural change to the business

Appeal

If the line manager rejects the request the employee will have the right to appeal against the decision and will be informed of this and to whom to make the appeal.

An employee may appeal if there is new information that was not available to the organisation at the time the original decision was made or if the employee thinks the application was not handled reasonably in line with this policy.

If the line manager arranges a meeting (or an appeal meeting) to discuss the application and the employee fails to attend this meeting and a rearranged meeting without good reason, the line manager can consider the request withdrawn. The employee will be informed in writing.

More information may be found on the ACAS website

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