Flexible working regulations
What is flexible working?
Flexible working can take many forms. It may simply be an agreement which
allows your employees to decide their hours of work within set boundaries
(e.g. a choice of working 8am-4pm or 9am-5pm). Alternatively, it could
consist of an arrangement for employees to work longer hours on most days
in return for extra days off. It might also entail working from home or
other remote locations.
What are my obligations as an employer?
All employees who have been employed for at least 26 weeks have a statutory
right to make a request for flexible working arrangements (before 30th June
2014 this was only available to parents and those with caring
responsibilities). In practice, this means that they can ask you for
permission to work flexibly, but you are not under any automatic obligation
to grant this. You will just need to consider each request in a reasonable
manner (which means objectively and fairly), with reference to the
statutory grounds, and to notify each employee of their decision within
three months of the request being made (unless you’ve agreed to an
Remember also that an employee cannot lawfully be dismissed, selected for
redundancy, victimised or subjected to any detriment for asserting his or
her right to apply for flexible working.
What are the statutory grounds for refusing flexible working requests?
An employer has the following grounds on which they can decide to reject a
statutory request for flexible working (under the Employment Rights Act
• the burden of additional costs
• detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
• inability to re-organise work among existing staff
• inability to recruit additional staff
• detrimental impact on quality
• detrimental impact on performance
• insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work
• planned structural change
Due to the wide-ranging nature of these grounds, it often comes down to a
policy decision of the employer as to whether to allow flexible working
arrangements. However, it’s important that this policy is applied fairly to
all members of staff.
Do I need to consider all flexible working requests?
Employers only need to consider flexible working requests made by employees
with at least 26 weeks of service. Furthermore, they should not have
submitted a previous request within 12 months. Employees should submit any
requests in writing, stating the date of the current request and nature of
flexible work sought, along with the date of their previous request (if
applicable). Having a flexible working policy in place can help all parties
understand their rights and responsibilities.
We have a range of documents and letters which are helpful for
employers who are dealing with flexible working requests. These can be
downloaded from our Employment Documents Folder. Click on the relevant
links below for further information.