Am I being penalised for requesting flexible working?

I submitted a flexible working application on the basis of what had been discussed and agreed previously in a meeting by my managers and a member of HR. Stating clearly that I didn’t want there to be any changes to my current terms and conditions, this was noted in the minutes of the meeting and agreed by all. I was told informally a few days later that “you’ll work more weekends” and at a flat rate (not at the overtime rate) and also the work during the week would be issued differently and that I’d be at the back of the queue if I continued with my application. I felt like I was being penalised for asking for flexible working. I believe my company should have followed their Flexible Working Request Policy by way of receiving a written reply outlining my manager’s intentions of how they would facilitate my application and feel that my manager’s approach was unfair underhanded and somewhat threatening. I have raised a grievance and been told by my company that the application was handled correctly by my manager and there is nothing to answer for. My question is are they able to do this? Would I be able to pursue this further through an industrial tribunal?

I note that you have submitted a flexible working application, but I am unclear on what changes you requested because you also state that you “did not want there to be any changes to (your) current terms and conditions”. I understand that your employer’s response was to state that you would work more weekends at a flat rate (not the overtime rate) and also that work would be issued differently.

You state that you feel that you have been penalised for asking for flexible working. It also seems that you have not received an outcome to your flexible working request. I understand that you submitted a grievance, but that this has been rejected.

The legal position is that employees with at least 26 weeks’ service can request flexible working. Your employer must then follow the statutory scheme. It must deal with your application in a reasonable manner and may only refuse your request for one of eight business reasons. Your employer must respond within a time period of three months.

You can complain to a Tribunal if your employer has failed to deal with the application in a reasonable manner, failed to notify you of their decision within the decision period, failed to rely on one of the statutory grounds, based its decision on incorrect facts or treats your application as withdrawal when grounds entitling your employer to do so do not apply.

From the situation you have described it does sound like you may be able to submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal that your employer has not dealt with your application in a reasonable manner and/or it has not given you one of the business grounds for refusing your request and/or it has not given you an outcome within the decision making period.

Any claims must be presented within 3 months of the time at which you became entitled to bring a claim. You would also need to go through the ACAS Pre-conciliation process before a Tribunal would accept your claim. I would advise you to start this process as soon as possible in order that you can preserve your ability to bring a claim in accordance with the relevant time limits and then take specific legal advice in relation to potential claims.

Should you require any further guidance on any of the issues listed above then please contact Tracey Guest of Slater Heelis LLP on 0161 672 1246.

*Helen Frankland assisted in answering this question.


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