Flexible working countdown: 6 – How should employers handle a request?

In the run up to the introduction of the new flexible working legislation, we look at the new rules and important changes to the procedure for dealing with flexible working applications. Today we consider how employers should handle a request.

Employers should deal with the request to work flexibly in a “reasonable manner”. This means that it should be considered carefully, looking at the benefits of the requested changes in working conditions for the employee and the business and weighing these against any adverse business impact of implementing the changes. The employee should be informed of the decision in writing as soon as possible, and the employer should discuss with them how and when the changes might best be implemented (if the request is granted, or granted with modifications). It is a good idea to have an appeal stage to allow the employee to appeal against the decision if the request is rejected.

For example, an employee submits a request to work from home every Friday. The employee believes that this will be beneficial to her and the business as she will have the time and space to complete important paperwork for the preceding week. The employee has line management responsibility for three junior staff who need a lot of support, so the employer would consider and discuss how the employee’s absence from the office would affect her staff and how she could continue to support them while working from home. The decision should be conveyed to the employee as soon as possible, as well as when any agreed change would commence.

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