Employees who qualify have a right to ask to vary their contract of employment to allow flexible working.
They will qualify by having 26 weeks of continuous employment with their employer.
Their employer must consider that application and may only refuse it where the employer considers that specified grounds apply.
A qualifying employee may apply to their employer for a change in their contract of employment so long as the change relates to:
- the hours they are required to work, or
- the times when they are required to work, or
- where they are required to work (as between their home and their employer’s place of business).
Only one application may be made in 12 months and it must be in writing.
After an application is made the employer has a duty to deal with it in a reasonable manner and inform the applicant of the decision within three months.
The employer can refuse the application if it is considered that one or more of the following grounds apply:
- the burden of additional costs,
- detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand,
- inability to re-organise work among existing staff,
- inability to recruit additional staff,
- detrimental impact on quality,
- detrimental impact on performance,
- insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work,
- planned structural changes.
If the employer has failed to deal with the application, or the employee considers that the employer has decided the application on incorrect facts, then the employee can complain to an Employment Tribunal.
A tribunal may order the employer to reconsider the application or award compensation up to eight weeks’ pay (limited to the same statutory amount as a week’s pay for redundancy and unfair dismissal compensation).
Bishopsgate Law employment lawyers provide independent legal advice about employment settlement agreements, and represent employees and employers at employment tribunals.