What is a flexible working request?

Written by Martha Mitchell
3 March, 2021
What is a flexible working request?

Did you know that a request from an employee to change their hours or place of work is a formal flexible working request?

What is a flexible working request?

Any employee with 26 weeks continuous service has the right to request flexible working. It doesn’t necessarily mean to finish work at different times each day or work ‘flexibly’ but an employee can only make one request every 12 months.

A flexible working request can be a request to:

  • Change or reduce hours of work
  • Change place of work
  • Split place of work between home and office
  • Job share with another person
  • Compress full time hours into fewer days
  • Have a degree of self-controlled flexitime

What must a Flexible working Request include?

  • The date of their application, the change to working conditions they are seeking and when they would like the change to come into effect.
  • What effect, if any, they think the requested change would have on you as the employer and how, in their opinion, any such effect might be dealt with.
  • A statement that this is a statutory request and if and when they have made a previous application for flexible working.

Employment Law Solutions

Employment Law Solutions offer Employment Law advice and can advise employers on flexible working requests. By offering a monthly retainer service you are able to benefit from legal advice and employment contract reviews 24/7, 365 days, all while spreading the cost over 12 monthly payments.

Call:  01270 295 296

How has Covid-19 has affected Flexible working requests?

Most employees have been working from home in one form or another since March 2020.  Although there was an initial abrupt shift to remote working, it’s become quite normal.  It seems to be common knowledge that Covid has reshaped the world of work and we are doubtful that it will return to how it was with sole office working.

Although many employees have had to balance home schooling, most employees have become accustomed to the benefits of home working.  Sorting out the evening’s dinner during a lunch break, popping a wash on or squeezing in a dog walk are some of the benefits.  Home working has reduced the rush for the school pick-up and eradicated an expensive commute to work for some.

We predict that employees will not want to return to the office full time.  They’d be quite within their rights to say “I’ve worked from home for 12 months, can I now do 2 days a week at home.”

LinkedIN has been littered with polls of employees saying they’d be happier with a more fair home-office split.  Few employees want the complete isolation of home working but few want the rigidity of the now old-fashioned full time office roles.

Any request to change hours from full time office based is a flexible working request and employers may be hard pushed to reject it.

The process of flexible working requests for employers:

The biggest headache from an employee having submitted a FWR is the procedure.  Employers have to:

– follow the ACAS Code of Practice on flexible working requests.

– provide an outcome with 3 months.

– handle requests reasonably.

– Discuss it with the employee and allow a colleague to be present.

– Consider the request carefully looking at the benefits of the requested changes in working conditions for the employee and the business and weighing these against any adverse business impact of implementing the changes,

–  not discriminate unlawfully against the employee.

– accept the request or reject it for one of these only reasons:

  • 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 your business

If an employer rejects the request, the employee must be given a right of appeal.

The complications of a Flexible Working Request

Whilst a flexible working requests can often be accommodated by employers, there are some complications we anticipate could occur from granting flexible working requests such as:

  • Team work not being as efficient due to lack of communication;
  • Staff morale – not being able to all be in the same room as a team, the job demands might feel un even due to lack of communication;
  • Monitoring staff both working in the office and working from home.

Advice on the process of a flexible working request

Employment Law Solutions can help the employer navigate through employees flexible working requests and offer legal advise about the best actions to take for your business. We understand that finding a reason to deny an employees request has become more challenging due to the last 12 months of working from home for most.

If you’re unsure on this process, please get in touch.

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