Flexible Working

Flexible working allows employees greater say over where, when and the hours they work

Flexible working allows employees greater say over where, when and the hours they work. It often includes options like part-time schedules, remote working, job shares and compressed hours.

Employers have a duty to consider all flexible working requests fairly. If an employer wishes to reject a request in full, it can only do so on the grounds specified within the legislation:

  • 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
  • a detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand
  • insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
  • a planned structural change to the business.

Who can make a flexible working request?

N.B. This advice reflects on the current law and will be updated in spring 2024 when the new flexible working law comes into effect.

Employees have a statutory right to ask to make changes to their contract with a flexible working request subject to the following conditions:

  • 26 weeks of continuous service
  • legally classed as an employee
  • no previous flexible working request made in the last 12 months.

Although other employees and workers do not have the statutory right to make a flexible working request, any individual might approach the employer with a request to change their terms of employment, and it would be wise to consider these more informal requests even though the statutory scheme does not apply. This is because although there may not be any risk of breaching the statutory scheme, a failure to consider such requests properly could give rise to claims of discrimination and potentially constructive unfair dismissal.

It is also important to be mindful of arguments around discrimination, whether the request is made through the statutory scheme or informally. Even if a rejection can fit within one of the specified grounds, it may still be discriminatory on an indirect basis, or a failure to make reasonable adjustments if the request is made to accommodate the needs of a disabled person.

How we can help

We recognise that every business is unique and so are its workforce and operational requirements.

At Ashtons HR Consulting, we offer the following services in relation to flexible working:

  • support you with developing tailored flexible working strategies that align with your specific goals and values
  • advice on handling statutory flexible working requests in line with the law
  • advice on handling informal flexible working requests from a best practice perspective
  • provision of a template Flexible Working Policy & Procedure
  • provision of template letters at each stage of a flexible working request.

Contact our HR Consultants today

For more information on flexible working, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist team by filling out our online enquiry form or by calling 0333 222 0989.


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