Flexible working countdown: 4 – What are the business grounds on which a request can be rejected?

Continuing our countdown of the new rules and important changes to the procedure for dealing with flexible working applications, we look at the business grounds on which a request can be rejected.

If an employer decides to reject an employee’s request to work flexibly, it must do so for one of the following business reasons:

  • the burden of additional costs;
  • an inability to reorganise work among existing staff;
  • an inability to recruit additional staff;
  • a detrimental impact on quality;
  • a detrimental impact on performance;
  • a detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
  • insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work; and
  • a planned structural change to the business.

The line manager must not reject a request for any other reason.

For example, an employee works in a call centre between 8am and 4pm. She has submitted a request to work between 10am and 6pm to avoid peak-time traffic. The employer has discussed the request with the employee. However, it does not feel able accommodate the employee’s proposal as the hours that they currently work are when the company receives the most calls from its customers, and seeing as the company is already short-staffed, it does not feel that it can cope with a reduction in staff working at the time that the employee works. The employer can reject the request on the basis that the change in the employee’s working time would have a detrimental effect on the company’s ability to meet customer demand. It could also reject the application if, because of a shortage in staff, it would be unable to reorganise the employee’s work.

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