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A leading lawyer’s top tips on how to apply for flexible working
More of us are seeking flexible working, but what are your rights, and how can you maximise your chances of getting a deal that works for you?
If you are an employee you can apply to change the terms of your employment contract. This can include a request to change the number of hours you work, the times you work, or the location where you work. More and more of us are seeking to work flexibly but what exactly are your legal rights and how can you maximise your chances of getting an agreement that works for you?
Who can apply for flexible working?
Historically, the right to apply for flexible working was limited to those with certain caring responsibilities but since 2014 those restrictions have been lifted therefore any employee who has been employed for 26 weeks. Legally you are only entitled to make one application every 12 months although some employers may allow more.
How do you apply?
Some employers will have their own policy and application form so make sure you check with your employer before you apply. The legislation requires that the application be made in writing and…
- It must state whether you have previously made an application to your employer, and if so when.
- It must state that it is an application for flexible working.
- It must specify the change applied for and the date it is proposed it would start.
- It must explain what effect, if any, you think making the change applied for would have on your employer and how, in your opinion, any such effect might be dealt with.
- It must be dated.
What must an employer who has received an application do?
The legislation requires your employer to deal with your application in a reasonable manner and notify you of their decision within 3 months of the date of your application unless you and your employer agree otherwise. Although there is no formal requirement for your employer to have a meeting with you, ACAS advise it is good practice. If you are invited to a meeting it is important that you attend. Your employer may only refuse an application on the following specific grounds:
- The burden of additional costs.
- It would have a detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand.
- There would be an inability to re-organise work amongst existing staff.
- Inability to recruit extra staff.
- There would be a detrimental impact on quality.
- There would be insufficient work in the periods you proposes to work.
- There are planned structural changes.
Some employers will give you a right of appeal against their decision but there is no legal requirement to do so.
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