Flexible Working FAQs
With more and more people requesting to work flexibly, we wanted to answer some of your general questions on the topic. As always, feel free contact us if you have any specific questions not listed below. Each case may always be slightly different so it’s important to discuss the pros and cons with a Legal Advisor.
Q. Who can apply to work flexibly?
All employees with 26 weeks service. Employees with less than 26 weeks service do not have a statutory right to request flexible working but some employers may allow all staff to make a request.
Q. Do I have to hold a meeting?
It is advisable to hold a meeting with the employee to discuss the employee’s flexible working application. It is not a statutory right to hold a meeting but it is good practice.
Q. What do I discuss in the meeting?
This meeting can provide an opportunity to see what changes the employee is asking for and reasons for the change. Although not a statutory requirement, it would be good practice to allow the employee to be accompanied at a meeting by a work colleague or trade union representative.
The law requires the process to be completed within three months of the request being received, this includes any appeals.
Q. Do I have to accept all flexible working requests?
Employers do not have to accept all flexible working requests but it is important to listen to employees, their reasons for flexible working and whether there is any compromises that can be made.
Employers should consider requests in a reasonable manner and can only refuse them if there is a business reason for doing so, this reason must be from the following list:
- the burden of additional costs
- an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
- an inability to recruit additional staff
- a detrimental impact on quality
- a detrimental impact on performance
- detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
- insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
- a planned structural changes to the business.
Q. Can I use a trial period to test whether the arrangement might work?
Yes. In fact it is preferable to offer a trial period, if possible, than to reject the request outright.