Flexible working informally agreed, then terms changed afterwards

I need some help with an issue regarding my recent formal application for flexible working.

Before the application was filed, an informal meeting was held with both my managers and the head of HR to discuss the viability of me and a colleague being able to undertake flexible working. All went well and it was agreed that there was no reason for what we wanted to be turned down. In fact it went so well that as a goodwill gesture my colleague and myself agreed we would help the organisation “when needed” and work weekends on a shared one in five weekend rota should it be needed – we currently only work weekdays. Saturdays & Sundays are worked voluntarily at a higher overtime pay rate.

I submitted my formal application on 26th October expecting to start flexible working on 1st November, it having been agreed in the meeting that this request wouldn’t affect my current terms and conditions.

The issue I have is that I spoke to my senior manager recently who in passing mentioned that if I were to submit my application, I would be required to work more weekends than we had agreed and at my basic weekday pay rate. I was also told that the majority of weekday work wouldn’t be offered to me as he would be offering this work to other members of staff. As a result I withdrew my flexible working application as I felt what was offered was detrimental to my current terms and conditions. I have already spoken to HR but they have said that I voluntarily withdrew my application and that what was being offered was perfectly reasonable and legal.

Sorry to hear about your situation.

In order for your request to be considered by your employer it must include:

o    – the date

o    – a statement that this is a statutory request

o    – details of how you want to work flexibly and when you want this to start

o    – an explanation of how you think flexible working might affect the business and how this could be dealt with, eg if you’re not at work on certain days

o    – a statement saying if and when you’ve made a previous application

Your employer has three months to consider the request, therefore putting in a request to start in five days’ time is not reasonable under the official process – I think it’s important here for you to ensure you follow that process so no accusations can be made by your employer that you have not done so.

They may refuse for one of the following reasons:

– the burden of additional costs

– an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff

– an inability to recruit additional staff

– a detrimental impact on quality

– a detrimental impact on performance

– a detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand

– insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work

– a planned structural change to your business

You may also chose to reach an agreement with them that suits both parties, but you don’t have to accept this and could choose to stick with your current terms and conditions. If they refuse what you have suggested they do need to give a written reason from the list outlined above.

What I’d suggest is you re-submit your application, and ask for accompaniment by a colleague at the meeting. I would only discuss the request at the meeting, don’t bring up the issues your manager raised unless you’re asked about them. Your employer should follow up the meeting with a decision, which can either be agreement, refusal (in line with one of the above reasons) or a compromise which you have reached.

If your request was approved, the terms would need to be agreed in writing which would mean what your manager has said wouldn’t be enforceable.

If you are unsuccessful, you could appeal against the decision or raise a grievance, outlining what’s happened from the beginning.

In terms of what your manager has stated will happen if your request goes ahead, their comments could be considered intimidation if they are trying to discourage you from making a flexible working request since this is your statutory right.

I hope this helps and best of luck with your request.





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