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Employment Law – Right to Request Flexible Working

Author: Joan Finch, J Finch & Associates Published: 20th June 2014 16:24

Sailing boats 

Employment Law is constantly changing, with this year being no exception.  Changes usually come into effect during the months of April and October.  This year, however, there does seem to be a number of changes coming in to force outside of these times. Following a short delay earlier this year, on 30th June 2014 the changes on the Right to Request Flexible Working come in to effect.

The changes in themselves are not overly massive, but could be quite impactful for some businesses.


In April 2003, the Right to Request Flexible Working was first introduced, through the Employment Rights Act 1996, whereby, should an employee qualify they would be able to make such a request to their employer for flexible working.  This would be a formal request to vary the contract of employment.  This right was for employees who had the responsibility of caring for children.  In 2007 this right was extended to include the carers of adults.

Throughout this time, employers would have to ensure they complied with the statutory procedure upon receiving a formal written request from an employee for flexible working.  In addition should the employer be unable to accommodate the request the statutory procedure provides a number of grounds on which the application may be declined.  The employee would have the right of appeal.

What is Flexible Working?

Flexible working is where, for example, hours of work are varied or staggered.  Requests may not always be in the form of a reduction in working hours to an employer, as employees may not want or be able to afford to reduce their pay, so it could be, for example, flexi working, compressed hours, working from home or annual hours; there are numerous options available.

What are the main changes?

Flexible working will now be available to ALL employees, with qualifying service.

As of the 30th June, all employees who qualify can make a formal written request for flexible working.  The current statutory procedure is being removed and employers will now be required to hear requests in a reasonable manner.  The previous business grounds for declining requests will remain. 

What should an Employer do if they receive a request for Flexible Working?

On receipt of all formal requests, employers should always act fairly and consistently.  Ideally following the summary steps below in a reasonable manner.

  • Employers should arrange to meet with the employee to discuss the formal request in more detail, in line with their company’s Flexible Working Policy
  • After the meeting, the employer should take time to consider the request and discussions, which took place during the course of the meeting
  • The employee should then be informed of the outcome.  This can be done in person first, and then followed up in writing.
  • The employee has the right of appeal should the request be declined

As an employer, you may now receive formal flexible working requests from ALL employees with qualifying service.  All applications must be treated fairly and consistently, and be dealt with in a reasonable manner.

As a company you will want to ensure that you have all the correct documentation in place to support your business at present and in the future.  Therefore if you have concerns or want to discuss your current and future contract of employment, employee handbook, HR policies and procedures, here at J Finch & Associates Ltd we can provide you with friendly practical advice and the tools to support your business.   

Article by Joan Finch of J Finch & Associates Ltd

Thanks to Joan our AboutMyArea/EN9 editorial contributor for this informative article. Check out Employment Law section in the Business Zone to read more of her articles.

Joan is an award winning, highly experienced, commercial, self-motivated HR professional who has operated within the sectors of Retail, Hospitality and Catering, specialising in Employees Relations. Joan is now the proud owner and creator of J Finch & Associates Ltd.  Joan's career spans over 10 years, and has broad experience within Human Resources, with initially being a HR generalist covering all aspect of HR from Recruitment, learning and development, training, Employee Relations, redundancy, restructures and TUPE. Since 2008 she has specialised in Employee Relations applying a commercial and practical approach to all ER related issues.

For more information on Human Resources, Employee Relationship and Employment Law issues you may like to take a look at J Finch & Associates website: http://www.jfinch.co.uk/ or call 0330 2230158.

When contacting J Finch & Associates please let them know you found their details on AboutMyArea website!

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