Employment law

Flexible Working Solicitors

If you would prefer working arrangements that enable you to work from home or vary your start and finish times, you have a legal right to ask your employer for flexible working. They don't have to grant your request, but they must consider it in a reasonable manner.

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Employment law solicitors

Slater and Gordon's experienced solicitors are here to advise you on all aspects of seeking flexible working arrangements. Call us on 0800 780 2730 or contact us and we'll call you.

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What is flexible working?

Even if you aren't a parent or a carer, if you've worked for the same employer for more than 26 weeks you've a legal right to ask your employer to consider offering flexible working arrangements. You do this by sending a letter to your employer that's legally known as a statutory application.

Your employer then has three months to consider the request, or longer with your agreement. At the end of this period, your employer can either agree to the request and amend your contract of employment accordingly, or they can deny the request and write back explaining the reasons why. Some of the types of flexible working you can ask for include:

  • Job sharing: Where two people share a job and split the hours between them, either equally or unequally
  • Working from home: When it's possible for you to do some or all of your work away from your normal place of work
  • Part-time: Working less than full-time hours
  • Compressed hours: Working full-time hours every month but over fewer days
  • Flexitime: Enjoying flexibility over start and finish times, but working agreed 'core hours' and working to the usual total of hours in your contract
  • Annualised hours: Like flexitime, but with the hours worked spread over a full year
  • Staggered hours: When you have different start, finish and break times from other workers
  • Phased retirement: There is no longer a fixed retirement age, so this allows you to gradually reduce hours before full retirement

Importantly, your employer must give reasonable consideration to requests for all of these flexible working practices. This doesn't mean they have to agree to your request; but they must give their reasons if they deny it, and if those reasons are inadequate, we may be able to help you take your case to an employment tribunal. To speak to one of our experienced employment solicitors about difficulties making a flexible working request, call us on 0800 780 2730 or contact us and we'll call you.

Why might my flexible working request be refused?

While the law says that you've a right to request flexible working, there is no obligation for your employer to grant that request; only for them to give it reasonable consideration and to give adequate reasons in the event of a refusal. Common reasons for refusal include:

  • Where you've applied to reduce your hours, but the employer doesn't believe you could do your job adequately in the time allowed by a move to part-time work
  • Where you've applied for flexitime but your role demands that you're at work during normal working hours, perhaps because of fixed shift patterns
  • Where you've applied to work from home, but your employer believes you need to be able to interact with colleagues in order to fulfil your role effectively
  • Where flexible working may affect the quality and performance of your role
  • Where the business may not be able to meet customer demands

Having said all of this, a refusal doesn't have to be the end of the matter. If you believe that your request for flexible working has been refused unfairly, your employer should, in the first instance, be prepared to sit down and discuss the situation with you and you've the right to appeal. It may even be the case that you've been working flexibly for some time and your employer wishes you to return to non-flexible working because they believe the arrangement is compromising your performance.

Flexible working is therefore a very complex area of employment law, which raises a number of different legal issues, meaning that every request needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you and your employer can't agree over flexible working arrangements, it may be worth seeking the advice of an experienced employment law solicitor. You can call us on 0800 780 2730 or contact us and we'll call you.

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