Flexible Working: Your rights

Everyone has a different lifestyle and working pattern that will suit them best. For instance:

  • Do you have children and want to be able to collect them from school?
  • How do you fit a dental appointment into your working day?
  • Would it suit you to work a few hours in the morning, have the afternoon off, then complete your work in the evening?

For many roles, it doesn’t matter what time you are actually at your desk, as long as you get the job done.

Some people sit in the office for eight hours a day and achieve next to nothing, while others get loads done in much less time while working from home.

Employers have to get used to paying for deliverables, not hours.

If you have worked for your employer for 26 weeks or more, you have the right to request flexible working. You can ask once each year, in writing. Think of it from their point of view. Explain how the change will affect your employer’s business, and how it might work in practice.

Flexible working might include:

  • Part-time
  • School hours
  • Flexitime
  • Working from home
  • Job sharing
  • Shifts
  • Staggered hours
  • Compressed hours (total number of agreed hours over fewer days)

Your employer must give your request serious consideration – however, they do not have to agree if they have a good business reason why not.

If your employer’s decision goes against you, there is no right to appeal. However, if they didn’t follow proper procedure when considering your request, or didn’t take the right information into account, you might be able to:

  • Ask ACAS to arbitrate between you and your employer
  • Complain to an employment tribunal

o   Note that an employment tribunal may not be able to over-turn the decision, but may be able to force your employer to reconsider or award you compensation.

If you are a woman with childcare responsibilities, you may even be able to make an ‘indirect sex discrimination’ claim.

It’s a complicated area, so it’s best to take advice from your solicitor.

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