Flexible working requests can be submitted during times when employees may need some extra help in striking a healthy work/life balance, or when circumstances might prevent or make it difficult for them to continue with their existing working conditions, so it is important to take them seriously and be considerate to the needs of your employees. 

Submitting a Flexible Working Request 

Flexible working can refer to an employees’ place of work, contract type, part-time working, flexitime, job sharing and/or shift work and, when a request is submitted, it should be submitted in writing, stating the date and time the request was made, and it should also state if any other applications have been made previously. The impact the change may have on the business, and if the request is being made in relation to the Equality Act 2010, should also be included in the request. 

In order to submit a flexible working request, employees must have been with the company for more than 26 weeks and only one flexible working request can be made within 12 months. 

Handling Flexible Working Requests 

When dealing with a flexible working request, a meeting can be arranged with the employee, although this isn’t a statutory requirement, but is good practice. This provides both the employer and employee with an opportunity to discuss the original request and discuss other options which could be explored, to ensure that the proposal is the best option for both the employer and the employee. If the employer chooses to conduct a meeting with the employee, the employee can also be given the opportunity to be accompanied by another work colleague or Trade Union Representative, however this would be at the discretion of the business. 

If the employee’s request is being accepted, this would make a permanent change to their employment contract so, if the employee only wanted this to be a temporary arrangement, this must be agreed in writing at the time. 

If the original request is being declined, a compromise should also be discussed to see if a mutual agreement can be reached, although this isn’t always possible. 

Rejecting Flexible Working Requests 

Any requests or appeals must reach a conclusion within 3 months of receipt and employers must be able to provide a sound business reason for rejecting the request, which must fall into one of the following categories: 

  • Burden of additional costs 
  • Inability to organise work amongst other staff 
  • Inability to recruit additional staff 
  • Detrimental impact on quality 
  • Detrimental impact on performance 
  • Detrimental impact on ability to meet customer demand 
  • Insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work 
  • Planned structural changes to the business 

When a flexible working request has been rejected, the employee will always have the right to appeal, but it is important to consider than, when dealt with correctly, reasonable adjustments can be beneficial to both the employer and the employee. 

If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610. 

For more information about the services that we provide at HR Services Scotland, please get in touch with us here. 

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