Flexible Working Requests – are you prepared?
In this article, our Senior HR Consultant, Louise Angell, discusses the influx of flexible working requests and offers advice to employers on how to deal with these types of requests.
Are you aware that if an employee has 26 weeks of continuous service they have a statutory right to apply for Flexible Working?
Did you know, as an employer, you have just a three month window to consider a request and it is your responsibility to ensure you have a policy in place that clearly lays out the process your employees need to follow.
Since the pandemic we have seen a sharp rise in Flexible Working and Hybrid Working. As schools return are we about to see it rise even further!
With statistics like the ones below is it the way forward?
More than three-quarters (78%) of those who worked from home in some capacity said that being able to work from home gave them an improved work-life balance in February 2022. Half reported it was quicker to complete work (52%) and that they had fewer distractions (53%). In addition, almost half also reported improved well-being (47%).
For some employees they may request working from home whilst others may request a reduction in hours, later/earlier start and finish times. In some cases the employee may request working from a different work location.
How to handle flexible working requests
The process is quite simple, however, it’s important to not miss any steps, see below:
- The employee would need to submit a ‘statutory flexible working request’ to you (the employer)
- The employer would arrange a meeting to discuss the request, before making a decision. You may need to go away and investigate further, for example, to see if the business can accommodate the employee’s request.
- Remember that an employer only has three months to process the request.
- Once the employer has made their decision you would write to the employee advising of the decision.
- If the request is approved the employer would again confirm in writing the agreed change, when it will start, and how long the change will last (if it’s for a fixed term)
- If applicable, a review date.
- However, if the request is rejected, the reason must be clearly set out in a letter to the employee.
- By law an employer can turn down a flexible working request if:
- It will cost too much
- They cannot reorganise the work among other staff
- They cannot recruit more staff
- There will be a negative effect on quality of work
- There will be a negative effect on the business’ ability to meet customer demand
- There will be a negative effect on performance
- There’s not enough work for the employee to do when they’ve requested to work
- There are planned changes to the business, for example, the employer plans to reorganise or change the business and thinks the request will not fit with these plans
- The employee has the right to appeal the decision, but this needs to be in writing. You must deal with the appeal within three months of receiving the original request.
What’s the risk to you if you don’t deal with the request correctly?
Whilst there is no mandatory right to work flexibly if a flexible working request is not dealt with correctly the employee could bring a claim against their employer for the reasons below:
- If the employer failed to deal with the flexible working request in a reasonable manner
- Not informing the employee of a decision within the three-month time frame
- If the employer refuses an employee’s application based on incorrect information.
At HPC our expert team can help you to introduce a Flexible Working Request Policy and support you with any flexible working requests. Please do not hesitate to get in contact with our team today.
T: 0330 107 1037