Employees have the statutory right to request flexible working if they have worked for their employer continuously for at least 26 weeks on the date they make their request and have not made a previous request during the past 12 months. Examples of flexible working include part-time work and flexi-time, job sharing and working from home. It is also possible to make an application to care for a child aged under 16 or under 18 if the child is disabled and also for certain adults who require care.
The employee starts by submitting a written application requesting flexible working. The employer must then meet with the employee to discuss the application and within 14 days of the meeting, the employer must write to the employee to either agree the new work pattern or give reasons for the rejection and allow the employee to appeal. If the employee wishes to appeal the rejection of a request, they must do so within 14 days. The employer must then arrange an appeal meeting to discuss the grounds of appeal and must provide the employee with the appeal decision within another 14 days. Reasons for refusing flexible working must be 1 of 8 prescribed reasons under section 80G of the Employment Rights Act 1996 which include the burden of additional costs, inability to re-organise work among existing staff and detrimental impact on quality or performance to the company.
An employee may make a claim to an Employment Tribunal only on very limited grounds such as the employer has not followed the correct procedure or has refused the request for a reason other than 1 of the 8 prescribed reasons. The claim must be presented to the Employment Tribunal within 3 months of the procedural breach or within 3 months of the date on which the employee is notified of the appeal decision. The Employment Tribunal may order the employer to reconsider the employee’s request for flexible working and can also award compensation not exceeding 8 weeks' pay, to which the statutory cap on a week's pay (which is currently £430) applies.