The right to request flexible working has formed part of UK employment law since 1999 but the details of the statutory scheme covering this area often leave employers confused. Here we dispel 5 common myths about flexible working:
- Myth 1: Only those with children can request flexible working. This is not true. Whilst flexible working used to be linked to caring responsibilities, the statutory right is available to all employees who have over 26 weeks’ service.
- Myth 2: Employers can refuse requests for flexible working for any reason. No – employers who refuse a flexible working request must rely on one or more of the eight legal grounds of refusal and need to state which one(s) they are relying upon when refusing.
- Myth 3: Employees have to give a reason for their request. No – employees do not have to provide any explanation as to why they are requesting flexible working. The legal rules currently require that a request is made in writing, is dated, explains the flexibility being requested, when they want it to take effect, whether they have made any previous request and any impact they think that their request might have on their employer. This last requirement is due to be removed when legal changes to flexible working come into force, likely next year.
- Myth 4: Employees can make as many flexible working requests as they want to. This is not true. Under the current statutory regime an employee can only make one request in every 12 month period. This is due to be extended to 2 requests in every 12 month period when legal changes in this area come into force, likely in 2024.
- Myth 5: Flexible working means part-time working. No – flexible working is a lot wider than the right to request to work part-time. The statutory regime allows employees to request changes not just to their hours of work but also place of work and times of work.
Find out how we can help. Our partner, Jon Dunkley, heads the Wollens specialist Employment Department. Contact him today for an informal chat, without obligation on 01271 342268 or via email at [email protected].