Flexible working limits: ask the expert

I made a flexible working request, but it was rejected on the grounds that my role was customer-facing and required full- time hours. I was willing to do 30 hours per week in any other role they could offer me. I have received no response after 28 days and am very stressed as I go back in six weeks. What should I do?

You are correct that 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, 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 acccompanied 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
– 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, one of which is the detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand ie in your case they think the job requires a full time person. However the fact that you requested to be considered for other part time roles does not seem to have been considered fully here by your employer.

So your employer has not followed the statutory process since he has not responded back to you in writing within 14 days outlining the reasons for turning down the request. I assume he/she has just declined it verbally which is not sufficient. By not writing to you, your employer has not advised you that you have the legal right to appeal the decision.

In terms of your next steps, you could lodge a grievance using your Company’s grievance procedure since then they are obliged to hold a meeting with you to discuss the grievance. Alternatively you might want to talk to ACAS or as a final resort you might want to seek legal advice since your employer has certainly failed to follow statutory guidelines.

While every care has been taken in compiling this answer, WorkingMums cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. This information is not intended to be a substitue for specific legal advice.

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