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What can I do if my employer rejects my flexible working request?

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While flexible working is a much more common occurrence than before, requests are not always granted. If your request is rejected, your employer could allow you to appeal their decision. In this article, our Employment team detail what criteria has to be met in order to first make a flexible working request, how you can appeal if your request is rejected and what you can do if your appeal isn’t successful.

What criteria do I have to meet in order to be eligible for flexible working?

If you have at least 26 weeks' continuous service and you have not made a request in the last 12 months, you have the right to make a flexible working request. If successful, this will amount to a permanent change to your contract. The request could be for a change to your working hours, place of work or the days on which you work. If you make a request in accordance with your statutory duty then your employer must make a decision in relation to your request within three months.

Your employer will need to consider the request and the reasons for it. Your employer can however refuse your request for the reasons below:

  • Planned structural changes;
  • The burden of additional costs;
  • Quality or standards will suffer;
  • They won't be able to recruit additional staff;
  • Performance will suffer;
  • They won't be able to reorganise work among existing staff;
  • They will struggle to meet customer demand;
  • Lack of work during the periods you propose to work.

If your flexible working request is non-statutory i.e informal, your employer only has to be reasonable in making their decision. They should, however, use similar reasons for rejecting the flexible working application as above.

How can I appeal if my request is rejected?

If your request is refused you should be given an explanation as to why (based on the reasons set out above) along with the details of your employer’s appeals procedure. Although you do not have a statutory right to appeal, ACAS guidance recommends that employers should allow their employees the opportunity to appeal.

At the appeal meeting your employer should allow you to be accompanied, usually by a colleague or trade union representative in line with ACAS guidance and good practice, to provide you with support and help. Your employer must notify you of its decision on any appeal within three months of the date of the application, unless a longer period is agreed with you.

What can I do if my appeal is not heard?

If an appeal is not allowed there are a number of different options available to you:

  • Continue to work your current contract of employment;
  • Raise a grievance with your employer;
  • Refer your request to ACAS using their arbitration service;
  • Continue to work and make a claim at an Employment Tribunal under the flexible working rules if your request is statutory or you believe there has been some form of discrimination;
  • Resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal, making a claim at an Employment Tribunal under the flexible working rules and provided you have the requisite length of service;
  • Seek alternative employment, resign and take no further action.

It is important to take legal advice before resigning or making a claim to an Employment Tribunal, as there are strict time limits for making such a claim. If you have made a request for a flexible working arrangement that you feel has been unfairly rejected, you can call our Employment team today on 023 8071 7717 or email employment@warnergoodman.co.uk to discuss your options.

ENDS

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.