Flexible work procedure not followed: ask the expert

I have submitted a flexible working request to my boss, who ignored it. After the statutory four weeks I had to remind my boss and finally got a meeting after seven weeks. My request was met with a refusal. I felt that the reasons for it weren’t fair so I have appealed the decision. Two weeks have passed and I have not heard anything about it. I have e-mailed the director to ask about it three days ago, but have not heard back anything yet. What should I do?

Flexible Working Hours

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There is a statutory procedure laid down in relation to employee requests for flexible working. In summary, on receiving a request for flexible working from an employee (which must be in writing), the employer must adhere to the following timelines:

Arrange a meeting with the employee within 28 days of receiving the application to discuss the request. The employee can be accompanied by a work colleague if they so wish.

Notify the employee of their decision within 14 days of the date of the meeting. This notification will either accept the request and establish a start date, or confirm a compromise agreed at the meeting, or reject the request and set out clear business reasons for the rejection together with notification of the appeals process.

There is a right to appeal and the employer must arrange to hear the employee’s appeal within 14 days of being informed of the employee’s decision to appeal. The employee must be allowed to be accompanied by a work colleague if they so wish.

Notify the employee of the decision on the appeal within 14 days after the date of the meeting.

Employers can decline applications based on several criteria and they would need to objectively justify why they weren’t prepared to accept your request.

It appears your employer may not have followed the statutory process. As you have reminded them of statutory guidelines, you could submit a grievance using your company’s grievance procedure about their failure to stick to the statutory regulations, asking them to repeat the process properly. If they don’t do what they’re supposed to do, you can submit a tribunal claim. You will have much more success if you do that after you have exhausted all the internal channels for dispute resolution.

If you do take out a claim and it is successful, the tribunal may order your employer to reconsider the request and award maximum compensation of eight weeks’ pay.

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