Requesting flexible working
The right to request flexible working was first introduced in 2003 for parents of young and disabled children. From April 2007 the Work and Families Act 2006 gave specified Carers as well as parents, the right to request flexible working.
The CBI Employment Trends Survey revealed that 96 % of requests from Carers have been accepted and that the overall impact on employers has been a positive one:
- 69% report a positive impact on employee relations
- 63% report a positive impact on recruitment and retention
- 35% report a positive impact on absence rates
- 28% report a positive impact on productivity.
What is flexible working?
Flexible working could include:
- Flexi-time: employees may be required to work within set times but outside of these ‘core hours’ have some flexibility in how they work their hours.
- Homeworking or teleworking: teleworking is where employees spend part of their working week away from the workplace. Homeworking is just one of the types of teleworking, along with mobile working and hot-desking.
- Job sharing: usually two employees share the work normally done by one person.
- Part time working: employees might work shorter days or fewer days in a week
- Term time working: employees don’t work during school holidays and either take paid or unpaid leave or their salary is calculated pro-rata over the whole year.
- Shift swapping or self-rostering: employees agree shifts among themselves and negotiate with colleagues when they need time off with the process being overseen by managers.
- Staggered hours: employees have various starting and finishing times meaning that goods and services are available outside traditional working hours.
- Compressed hours: employees works their total hours over fewer working days e.g. a 10 day fortnight is compressed into a nine day fortnight.
- Annualised hours: employees’ hours are calculated over a whole year and then split into ‘fixed shifts’ and ‘reserve shifts’ which can be agreed on a more flexible basis.
Eligibility criteria to make a request for flexible working:
- I have worked continuously as an employee of the company for the last 26 week
- I have not made a request to work flexibly under this right during the past 12 months.
Employee’ and employers’ rights, responsibilities and requirements
- To request to work flexibly
- To have your request dealt with in a reasonable manner in line with the ACAS Code of Practice which recommends: you could be allowed to bring along a companion to meetings with your employer to discuss your request, you should be allowed to appeal against and employer’s decision to refuse your request
- To take a complaint to a tribunal in certain circumstances
- To be protected from detriment or dismissal for making a request
- To have your request refused only where there is a clear business reason for doing so.
- To provide a carefully thought-out request
- To ensure request is valid by checking that you meet the eligibility criteria and that you have provided all the necessary information.
- To arrive at meetings/discussions on time and to be prepared to discuss your request in an open and constructive manner.
- To be prepared to be flexible yourself in order to reach an agreement with your employer.
Employers’ rights and requirements
- To reject a request only if the desired working pattern cannot be met withing the needs of your business
- To seek your employee’s agreement if you need to extend any of the timescales
- To consider a request withdrawn in certain circumstances
- To consider requests properly in accordance with the ACAS Code of Practice
- To ensure you stick to the time limit
- To decline a request only where there is a recognised business reason
- To ensure that you do not subject an employee to detriment or dismissal for making a request.
How do employees make a request?
The request to work flexibly must be made in writing, dated and should include:
- an outline of the working pattern that the employee would like to change to
- an explanation of the effect, if any, they think the proposed change might have on their job and how they think this could be dealt with
- the date on which they would like the proposed change to start
- a statement that it is a statutory request for flexible working and the dates of any previous requests
Can an employer refuse a request
An employer can only refuse a request if they have one of the following business reasons which are set out in legislation:
- burden of additional costs
- detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
- inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff or recruit additional staff
- detrimental impact on quality or performance
- insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work
- planned structural change
The process (request to flexible working)
- Employer receives a written request to work flexibly
- Request is considered carefully
- Request is discussed
- Employee is informed of decision
- If request is refused
- Deal with requests prompty