In recent times, flexible working has gained more popularity as a way of improving an employee’s work-life balance.
Flexible working is defined as any working pattern other than the norm, which can include changes to working hours, start and finish times and place of work.
Almost all employees with at least 26 weeks’ service have the right to ask for flexible working, and you must consider requests in a ‘reasonable manner’.
Employees must make an application for flexible working in writing, specifying:
• Details of the change they are asking for.
• What effect they think the change would have on the business and how the business could handle it.
• The date the request is made and the date they would like the change to start.
• A statement that this is a statutory request for flexible working, whether or not they have made a request previously and if so its date.
In response to this request, a business must commit to assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the application, holding a meeting to discuss the request with the employee and offering an appeal process.
A decision must be reached in three months.
A request for flexible working can only be refused for one of the following business reasons;
• The burden of additional costs to the business
• A detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand
• An inability to reorganise work among other employees
• An inability to recruit additional employees
• A detrimental effect on quality of the output of the business
• A detrimental effect on performance of the business
• Insufficient work at the times when the employee proposes to work.
• Planned structural changes.
If an employee has already made a request, they are not entitled to make another request until 12 months later.
If a request is accepted, there may be further changes needed, including amends to the employee’s contract, pay and holiday entitlement.
In the case of a home worker, a risk assessment must be carried out, though the employee can do this.
You should also consider the impact of the move on other employees.