Flexible working hours refer to any working pattern, which does not fall in with the widely accepted working schedule. Although the UK law requires employers to “consider seriously” all requests for flexible working hours coming from eligible employees, there are a few general rules, which should be taken into account.
1. An employee’s eligibility depends on his or her qualifying length of service (26 continuous weeks), and they must not have made another request within the last 12 months.
2. Certain special events, e.g. sporting events, do not generally qualify as reasonable grounds for an employee’s flexible working hours request. However, some leeway is possible if it is not detrimental to the business and this can be granted at the employer’s discretion.
3. An application for flexible work must be written by the employee in advance and must include detailed reasons for the application.
4. The employer can refuse the employee’s request for flexible hours only if there is a strong business reason. Rejection, in turn, allows the employee to appeal within 14 days of the employer’s letter of refusal. In certain circumstances, the employee can make a formal complaint to an employment tribunal.
5. If the request for flexible working hours is granted an approval, the employer must amend the employee’s employment contract to reflect the changes regarding working hours, salary and holiday pay as soon as possible.