Flexible work request turned down: ask the expert

I recently requested part time hours. With no discussion, my request was turned down by post the same day, stating that my job requires full time hours. Two other staff members are part-time, one in a similar sales role. What can I do?

There is a statutory procedure that should be followed by your employer when you make a request to work flexibly. It does not sound like your employer has complied with this as upon receipt of a request by you to work flexibly, your employer is obliged under the legislation to hold a meeting with you to discuss the request and, if they still refuse your request, you have the right to appeal to somebody higher in the company. You should, therefore, make a further formal request and make it clear that this is a formal request under the flexible working regulations.

Provided your employer follows the statutory procedure (i.e. discusses the request with you in a meeting and gives you the opportunity to appeal) and gives business reasons for the decision to refuse the request, there is little scope for complaining to the Employment Tribunal. There are grounds upon which the request can lawfully be refused, including burden of additional costs, inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff or to recruit new staff and detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand.
However, if you have good reason to believe that your request has been unreasonably considered or refused, it may be possible to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal for indirect sex discrimination if you have to leave your employment as a result of the refusal to your request. However, these claims can be fairly difficult to substantiate and you should always seek legal advice about your specific case.
This gives a general overview only, based on the information available at the time of writing. It cannot be relied upon in any particular case. Specific legal advice must always be considered to include consideration as to whether the legal position contained has changed since publication. For further information and advice, please contact Lemon&Co Solicitors on 01793 527141 or visit their website: www.lemon-co.co.uk.

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