Flexible request due to relocation turned down: ask the expert

I am currently on maternity leave and due to return in April. Prior to being on maternity leave I worked full time hours, but had flexible working where I started early and finished early a couple of days a week. Since being on maternity leave the business has relocated. For me this will add at least an hour each way to my journey. Because of this, I had a meeting with my line manager requesting to change my working hours to enable me to still be able to take and collect my eldest daughter from school a couple of days a week. This wouldn’t be possible working my old hours, due to the additional travel time. In my new request I proposed working 1 day from home and the other days starting early and finishing early. I have had my request turned down for two reasons, 1)requires my presence in the office to meet reporting dates imposed therefore a fixed day working from home is not compatible 2) requires working closely with team especially when time pressured which will not happen if I finish early or work from home.
I feel I have a strong argument against both these issues, but would like another opinion. From Oct12-Mar13 the rest of my team relocated and I remained in the old building and therefore I spent 5-6 months working independently even with the time pressures and strict reporting dates. To me this demonstrates that if I worked from home 1 day a week, it would be no different to when I was separate to the rest of the team. My other argument would be that I have always finished early at least 2 days a week without any issues and have carried out my role to a good standard and there has never been a complaint that my early finishing was causing an issue with deadlines. My employer has proposed another role in the business which would allow me to work from home 1 day, but work in the office the remaining 4 days doing regular working hours. This wouldn’t fit with my childcare arrangements. Do I have a strong case to appeal the company’s decision?

Under the flexible working legislation, you have the right an appeal against any refusal. Your employer can refuse a request for flexible working for business reasons. Without sight of your employer’s reasoned refusal, it is difficult to advise whether they fall within the legislation.

Your first point of call is to appeal against the refusal, making the points you have in this post. If this is refused and you believe that a flexible working request has been refused on incorrect facts, you can bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal. You could rely on the time you spent working independently and your previous early finishes as evidence.

As well as the flexible working legislation, you are assisted by laws against indirect sex discrimination. Any restrictive rules that disadvantage women caring for children, such as requiring you to work on a specified number of days/hours per week or against homeworking, must be justified as proportionate. Again, it is difficult to advise without knowing more about your employer’s reasons for the refusal.

If you are not successful in persuading your employer to accept your chosen work pattern and cannot return to work as a result, you should seek specialist legal advice about your options.


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