Can I increase my hours via a flexible working request?

I made a request to increase my hours from part time to full time via a flexible working request. My company has said I am not allowed to do this and they will not even consider it. They say you can only request down not up. I understand they could turn it down with business reasons, but they have just simply turned it down and said I do not have the right to do it. Is that right?

Clock Time

 

Flexible working requests are certainly not limited to a reduction in hours. Whilst it’s less usual to hear of applications to increase hours, S80F Employment Rights Act 1996 simply refers to a “change” in working hours not a reduction, which means it includes an application to go full-time if currently part-time.

Your employer should be considering the request in the same way as any other FWR with the same process applied.

If you made the request under the statutory procedure, you could potentially bring a claim on one of a number of grounds but probably most likely (on these facts) on the basis that:

  • Your employer failed to deal with your request in a reasonable manner.
  • Your employer refused the request without consulting you.
  • Your employer failed to notify you of the decision on your request within the decision period (depending upon how long has passed since you submitted the request).
  • Your employer rejected the request for a reason other than one of the statutory grounds.

A claim cannot be brought on these grounds until either:

  • Your employer has notified you of the decision on the request.
  • The decision period applicable to the request, including any agreed extension to that period, comes to an end.

From what you say it sounds as though there may have been a formal decision on the matter and so the time limit for raising a complaint would then be either three months from the day of that decision being given or, if no decision has in fact been given, three months from the date that the statutory decision period passes (which could be two or three months depending upon whether you submitted the application before or after the rule change in April).  You would, of course, first need to go through ACAS Early Conciliation before submitting a complaint to the tribunal (which ultimately might result in an order that your employer reconsiders the request and an award of up to eight weeks’ pay if you win).

Hopefully, it won’t need to go that far as relations are likely to sour once a claim has been submitted.  If you aren’t past the point of friendly discussions, you could perhaps indicate that you have taken legal advice and been told that an application to increase hours does fall within the rules and would they mind reconsidering their stance before you consider your next steps.  It might prompt them to take advice themselves perhaps.

*Marie Horner is an experienced senior employment law specialist at ALT Legal in Wetherby.



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