Flexible Working: What Are My Rights?
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of things for many of us. Working from home has become the new normal and most employers have become more flexible about how and when hours are worked. It suits some of us, so what if you want these arrangements to continue after we can all return to our places of work? Read on for more information.
What Is Flexible Working?
Traditionally, you had to attend your place of work in order to complete your duties. However, the idea of flexible working was originally introduced as a way of accommodating employees who had childcare responsibilities at home. This has now been extended and all employees can request flexible working regardless of their circumstances. Everyone has different responsibilities in their personal life and the concept of flexible working is designed to make the work life balance easier for the employee. Quite simply, flexible working takes us away from the traditional “9 to 5” at your place of work.
There are different types of flexible working and, ultimately, it depends on what suits your situation best. Some of the most common examples of flexible working options are: –
- Part time working (a reduction in your normal working hours)
- Working from home (for some or all of your working hours)
- Job sharing (sharing a single role between two or more employees)
- Annualised hours (completing an annual number of hours rather than set weekly hours – usually beneficial where the business has seasonal variations or the employee wants to work more hours on some weeks of the year, eg during school term time)
- Compressed hours (working your full weekly working hours but over fewer days, eg working 35 hours a week over 4 days rather than 5)
There are two ways in which you can make a Flexible Working request: –
- You can make a Statutory Flexible Working Request, which is made in accordance with relevant legislation, or
- You can make a Non-Statutory Flexible Working Request.
This blog considers Statutory Flexible Working Requests. If you are not eligible to make a Statutory Flexible Working Request, you can still make a Non-Statutory Flexible Working Request, please see my blog at: https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/i-want-to-change-my-working-arrangements-but-i-am-not-eligible-to-make-a-statutory-flexible-working-request/
The statutory right to make a Flexible Working Request is contained within section 80F Employment Rights Act 1996.
To be eligible to make a Statutory Request, you must be an employee who has been employed for at least 26 weeks with your current employer.
If you are self-employed, a worker or an agency worker, the usual position is you are not eligible to make a Statutory Flexible Working Request. There are limited exceptions for agency workers, for example in some circumstances where you are returning to work from a period of parental leave.
When Can I Make A Statutory Request?
You can make a Statutory Flexible Working Request at any time after you have been employed for 26 weeks.
However, you can only make one request in any 12-month period, so you do need to look ahead to ensure you are not using your request too soon.
How Do I Make A Statutory Request?
To make a Statutory Request for Flexible Working you must make an application in writing to your employer. Your employer may have a Flexible Working Policy and specific form they require completing for any such request. In the absence of a specific form, a letter will suffice.
Your application letter must include at least the following information: –
- You are making a Statutory Flexible Working Request,
- The date you are making the application,
- The date of any previous application you have made, or confirmation you have not previously made such a request,
- The working arrangements you are requesting,
- When you want the new working arrangements to come into effect,
- An explanation as to how you think your proposed changes would affect your employer and colleagues and how those affects can be dealt with.
When considering how your flexible working arrangements would affect your employer and colleagues, you are not expected to know the exact effects it could have, just what you consider the effects could be. To demonstrate you have given this serious thought, you can outline in your application who you think would be able to cover your work, or how your work can be managed so it does not affect anyone else.
You do not have to say why you are making the request, however, in some circumstances it can help an employer understand your situation and your need for the flexible working arrangement which would make them more likely to agree to your request.
What Happens Next?
After you have made your Statutory Request, your employer must consider it and deal with it reasonably. Unless your employer is happy to grant your request immediately, they will likely arrange a meeting with you to discuss the details of your request to ensure they have a proper understanding of your request.
Your employer must have completed the whole process, including allowing time for any appeal, within three months of your request being made.
When Can My Employer Refuse My Statutory Request?
Your employer can refuse your Statutory Flexible Working Request (without considering the impact of your request) if you do not meet the eligibility criteria to make the request, or you have not included all the required information in your request.
Once your employer is satisfied you have done the above, they can only refuse your Statutory Flexible Working Request in the following situations: –
- Allowing your request would subject them to additional costs,
- It would have a detrimental effect on the employer’s ability to meet customer demand,
- Your employer cannot reorganise your work among existing staff,
- Your employer is not able to recruit additional staff,
- Allowing your request would have a detrimental impact on quality,
- Allowing your request would have a detrimental impact on performance,
- There is not enough work for the periods you want to work, or
- Your employer has planned structural changes.
If your employer does refuse your Statutory Flexible Working Request, you may be able to appeal their decision.
What Happens If My Request Is Successful?
If your employer has agreed to your Statutory Flexible Working Request, you will have successfully varied your Terms and Conditions of Employment. This is a permanent change (unless you have agreed otherwise) and you have no right to revert to your former way of working. There is no right to have a trial period, but that does not prevent you from agreeing one with your employer.
Assistance from Lincs Law Employment Solicitors
If you want to make a Statutory Flexible Working Request and you would like assistance preparing it, or think your employer has unreasonably refused your request, please call us on 01522 440512 for an initial, free of charge consultation with one of our Specialist Employment Solicitors. Alternatively, if your employer is trying to change your hours and you do not want to agree, please visit our blog https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/can-my-employer-reduce-my-pay-or-hours-because-of-coronavirus/
Specialist Employment Solicitor
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors
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