For an increasing number of employers, employees are requesting flexible working hours. Flexible working applications can include requests such as working from home, part-time working, flexi-time and reduction to hours. Employment law solicitors Manchester Ralli LLP have seen an increase in the number of clients seeking legal advice relating to such requests.
From 30 June 2014, all employees with 26 weeks continuous service became eligible to request flexible working. However, there are various requirements regarding requests for flexible working including:
• the employee’s request must be set out in writing stating clearly the date, the change requested, when it is to begin and the effect it will have on the employer and whether any previous applications have been made;
• an application must not have been made during the previous 12 months.
What does this mean for employers? Employers are required to consider requests objectively and in a “reasonable manner”. This essentially means as an employer you are expected to hold a meeting with the employee making the request in good time (sooner rather than later) and communicate your decision and hold any appeal within 3 months from the date of the request. Should an employer reject a request for flexible working, they are expected to provide clear business reasons for their rejection, examples include;
• the burden of additional costs
• an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
• an inability to recruit additional staff
• a detrimental impact on quality
• a detrimental impact on performance
• detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
• insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
• planned structural changes to the business