8 Reasons Why Employers Can’t Refuse Flexible Working
2 Minute Read
2 Minute Read

With changes afoot, we thought it would be a useful time to do a reminder on flexible working.

Currently, employees who have 26 weeks of service have the right to make a flexible working request. They can make a request once in every 12 month period.

It is not a right to be given flexible working, only the right to request. When considering a request the employer must ensure that it is decided through a fair process within 3 months.

Typically this would form the basis of a meeting to discuss the request, a decision and the opportunity to appeal.

The employee also had to set out if there was any impact on the employer, what they believed could be done to mitigate that impact.

There were only 8 reasons that an employer can give when refusing a request for flexible working.

From 6th April 2024 the rules are changing.

An employee can make a request from day 1 of employment and they can make 2 requests in a 12 month period.

The employer must also come to a decision within 2 months.

Employees no longer need to set out the impact to the employer or provide thoughts on how to mitigate any impact.

The 8 reasons for refusal have remained the same.

The position remains, it is a right to request flexible working only, not a right to be granted it. However, employers need to bear in mind that as a statutory right if an employee were to be dismissed for making a statutory given right to request flexible working this would be an automatic unfair dismissal- and an employee would not need 2 years’ service to be able to bring a claim.

It is therefore important to ensure a proper and fair process is undertaken, that an employee is not treated poorly for making a request, and that real consideration is given to the request before refusing, whilst ensuring any refusal is in line with the 8 acceptable reasons.

Those 8 reasons are:

  1. It will cost your business too much
  2. You cannot reorganise the work among other staff
  3. You cannot recruit more staff
  4. There will be a negative effect on quality
  5. There will be a negative effect on the business’ ability to meet customer demand
  6. There will be a negative effect on performance
  7. There’s not enough work for your employee to do when they’ve requested to work
  8. There are planned changes to the business, for example an intention to reorganise and the request will not fit with these plans

Remember it is key to engage the employee in a process where they are properly consulted are clear on your reasoning for any decisions and that those decisions are evidence-based. It is also crucial to consider any alternative arrangements that you could offer as a compromise to an employee if you can’t agree with their request.

Are you ready to become your workplace hero?

In conclusion, as flexible working regulations evolve, it’s crucial for both employers and employees to understand their rights and responsibilities. While employees gain the ability to request flexibility from day 1 of employment and decisions must be made swiftly, the core principle remains: the right to request, not to be granted. Employers must ensure fair, transparent processes, considering the eight acceptable reasons for refusal and exploring compromises where possible. Upholding fairness and communication will foster a positive, productive workplace for all.

Unsure of how to handle flexible working requests in your workplace? Contact us today for a free consultation.