The right to request flexible working was first introduced under the Employment Act 2002 and came into force on April 6, 2003. In 2007, this was expanded to include caring for adult relatives. Under the Flexible Working Regulations 2014, it is no longer necessary to be a carer in order to be eligible.
The right to request consists of:
To make a request under this legislation, your employee must:
Hybrid working is sometimes referred to as blended working. This is a form of flexible working that allows employees to split their time between the workplace and working from home.
Your eligible employee may request a change to:
There are no real limits on what your employee can request by way of variation, including:
The right-to-request procedure was removed in July 2014 and replaced with a more informal procedure that simply requires you to deal with requests in a reasonable manner. What is considered reasonable is set out in the Acas Code of Practice on flexible working requests. However, a request from your employee must be in writing and include the following information:
Having received a request, you as the employer, unless you intend to agree it, should meet with your employee and allow them to be accompanied to the meeting. You should inform your employee of the decision in writing. If the request is rejected, an appeal should be allowed. The whole process should not last more than three months.
You may refuse a request for flexible working if your employee is not eligible to apply or where one or more of the following grounds apply:
In addition, you can treat your employee’s request as withdrawn if either of the following apply:
Your employees can take a claim relating to an employer’s mishandling of a right to request to an Employment Tribunal. As well as the right to request legislation, Employment Tribunal claims can also be brought under the Equality Act 2010. For example, a woman returning from maternity leave who has had her request to work part-time refused may have an indirect sex discrimination claim. Similarly, a man may be able to bring a claim under the same sex discrimination legislation if he can show a woman’s request would have been treated more favourably. Alternatively, if the employee is disabled the change requested may be a reasonable adjustment they would be entitled to under the Act.
Any of your employees who make an application to work flexibly are protected against detrimental treatment in the same way a woman who takes, or seeks to take, maternity leave is protected. Any dismissal of your employee would automatically be regarded as unfair if the reason for their dismissal was connected to their request to work flexibly. An employee dismissed because they tried to exercise the right to work flexibly may also bring a claim for dismissal for asserting a statutory right.
It is often advisable to seek legal help before making a formal complaint. To make a formal complaint about treatment relating to the right to request, your employee should:
It is advisable to seek specialist legal help where your employee has made a complaint relating to a right to request or sex discrimination. As the employer, you should also:
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