Flexible working countdown: 1 – What claims could result from a mishandled request?

flexible-working-countdown-1

In our final article in the run up to the introduction of the new flexible working legislation, we consider what claims could result from a mishandled request.

If an employer mishandles an employee’s request to work flexibly, the employee can complain to an employment tribunal that the employer failed to deal with the request in a reasonable manner.

An employee may also complain to an employment tribunal if he or she believes that an application for flexible working has been rejected on grounds other than the acceptable eight business reasons, or that the decision to refuse the request was based on incorrect facts.

If an employment tribunal finds the complaint to be well founded, it will make a declaration to that effect and may order the employer both to reconsider the employee’s application and to pay such compensation to the employee as the tribunal considers to be just and equitable in all the circumstances (subject to a maximum of eight weeks’ pay capped at the statutory maximum).

Employers should also be aware that an employment tribunal could award compensation to an employee who successfully claims that a refusal to grant a request for flexible working is unlawful under the discrimination legislation.

For example, the employer from our last countdown refuses the employee’s request to work part time and ignores the employee’s protestations regarding his unfair treatment compared to a female member of staff. The employer does not offer the employee a right of appeal or give him the opportunity to raise a grievance. He tells the employee that part-time work is for women.

In these circumstances, the employee could make a claim to the tribunal that the employer has not handled his request in a reasonable manner and has failed to cite one of the eight business reasons for refusing the request to work flexibly. The employee could also make a complaint to the employment tribunal for sex discrimination on the basis that the employer will allow female employees to work part time, but not male employees.

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