UK adopts statutory right to flexible working

Recent changes to UK employment law means employees can now request changes to their working conditions. Sarah Martin, Director – UK Business Development gives the details.

Within the UK, as from 30 June 2014, every employee with a 26 week employment service record has the statutory right to make a request to their employers to work under an agreed flexible working arrangement. Prior to this date, only parents and certain carers of children under the age of 17 (18 if that child was disabled) had this right. An employee may only make one request in any 12 month period.

Flexible working requests can cover several employment-related working conditions such as place of work (for example, a request to work from home), hours worked, shifts worked, type of contract (for example, temporary to permanent) and job sharing.

A flexible working request must be a written dated request stating the change to the current conditions that the employee is seeking and the date on which they would like that change to take effect, which includes the date of any previous applications for flexible working, and how the change may impact on the business (eg any cost implications). It must also state, if applicable, if the application is being made in relation to the Equality Act 2010 (such as reasonable adjustment for a disabled employee).

Requests and appeals in relation to requests must be dealt with by an employer within three months of the receipt of that request. Whilst the employer has no obligation to grant the request, they must have a sound business reason, from one of the below, for rejecting the request:

  • 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  
  • a planned structural change to the business

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