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Can my employer withdraw from a flexible working agreement?

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There are two ways that you can ask for flexible working:

  • A statutory request (a request made in writing which can only be made once in any 12-month period).
  • A non-statutory request (a request made if you’re not eligible to make a statutory request, depending on company procedure.  This can either be done formally or informally).

If a statutory request has been agreed, it would form a permanent change to your contract which by law will have to be adhered to. A non-statutory request isn’t made under the law, and therefore has no set procedure. This type of request is more applicable for temporary or minor changes to a contract, for example, a phased return to work after an illness. You and your employer may choose to include a trial period; this will allow both parties to work out the best arrangement.

If your employer wishes to change the arrangement once it is in place, they should seek your consent to the change. If you have more than 2 years service, your employer will need a sound business reason for rejecting the original request, or if they wish to change the arrangement.  They will also need to follow a fair process when making their decision. You should be aware of any potential indirect discrimination, for example if you would like change your working hours because your disability makes you fatigued at a certain time of day and your request is denied or your employer wishes to change it after a certain amount of time, this could amount to indirect discrimination. 

If your original request is rejected, your employer will need to justify the reason; they may choose to consider whether there is any alternative way of achieving the same end result. Any change made to the contractual terms imposed by your employer without your consent will be a breach of contract (unless your employer has a contractual power to do so).

If you have made a flexible working request and this has been rejected by your employer, or your employer wishes to change an existing flexible working arrangement, you can contact the Employment team on 023 8071 7717 or email


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.