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Flexible Working

Flexible Working Applications

Employees are entitled to make a statutory request for flexible working from the first day of employment. Employees can make a maximum of two statutory flexible working requests during any 12-month period. A request cannot be made until any previous request has been concluded in full.

Flexible working patterns

Various flexible working patterns can be considered, including:

  • Part-Time – the employee works for a reduced number of hours;
  • Flexi-Time – the employee usually has a set number of core hours and is free to decide when to work those hours;
  • Annualised Hours – the employee has a set number of hours over a year (as opposed to a week or a month) and chooses when to work those hours;
  • Compressed Hours – the employee works the same number of hours as before, but over fewer days;
  • Staggered Hours – employees in the same workplace start, take breaks, and finish work at different times;
  • Job Sharing – two people perform the same job, usually with one following on from the other with an overlap in between;
  • Home working – the employee carries out their duties from home.

Depending upon an employee’s position and preferences any of these alternative work schedules can be combined to produce a result suited to the employer and employee.

Flexible working applications

To start the application process, the parent must inform their employer of the following factors, dated and in writing:

  • A statement to the effect that the application is being made under the statutory right to request flexible working;
  • Specify the desired flexible working pattern;
  • Specify the date on which they would like the new pattern to commence; and
  • State whether any previous application has been made and, if so, when.

A flexible working application must also state whether the employee is requesting the variation as a reasonable adjustment under the disability discrimination provisions of the Equality Act 2010.

This request can take the form of a letter. Alternatively, employers may choose to adopt a standard form which addresses the above points. Employees should check on this point with their employer before making any such request.

The employer should acknowledge this request. The request should be dealt with, and concluded, within two months of the date of the application, unless both sides agree on an extension. An extension to the timescale should be agreed in writing.

Refusing a flexible working request

A flexible working request can be refused 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
  • flexible working will affect 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

Outcome of a flexible working request

Where a decision is made to agree to the application for flexible working, the notice will specify the contract variation agreed to and state the date on which the variation is to take effect. Where the decision is to refuse the application, the notice will state which of the specified grounds for refusal are considered to apply, with an explanation of why those grounds apply in relation to the application and set out the appeal procedure.

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