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At present, parents of children under 17 (or 18 if disabled) and carers of certain adults have the right to make a request for flexible working; allowing them to ask their employers whether they can change their hours, job share, work from home, switch to part-time or term-time working, or for any other change to their contractual working pattern.
Importantly, the law does not give parents the right to work flexibly, but makes it easier for an employee to make a request and have it properly considered.
To qualify for the right, employees must have worked for 26 weeks continuously for their employer at the date of the request. The employer is under a duty to follow a set procedure and properly consider the request. In practice, employers have a wide scope for rejecting requests if they have a valid business reason for doing so.
How to make a request for flexible working
- Your application must be in writing. If it is well thought out, this will increase the chances of your employer agreeing to the change.
- Think carefully before you make a request. You can only apply once each year. If granted, the change will be permanent unless agreed otherwise.
- You can complain to an employment tribunal within 3 months if your employer fails to follow the set procedure or if they reject your application unfairly. The tribunal may order the employer to reconsider, or award compensation of up to 8 weeks' pay. You may also have an additional claim for indirect sex discrimination.
If you need advice on making a request for flexible working, if your employer has failed to deal with your application properly, or if you feel that your employer has unfairly rejected it, please contact Judith Curran by email or telephone 01689 887812.