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I am on maternity leave and due to return in October. I recently sent an email to the directors asking for a job share, but before I did so I asked my manager that if a job share was not available could I ask to reduce my hours in another way and she said yes. Since then I have read you can only make one application a year, so can I not ask again now as my job share request has been turned down?
It appears that your initial request for a job share was made on an informal basis, rather than a formal application to work flexibly under the statutory right to request flexible working procedure. Therefore, my advice is that you now make a formal request. Your request must be made in writing and dated and must:-
1) State that the application is being made under the statutory right to request flexible working.
2) Detail the changes requested and the date that it is proposed that such changes should become effective. In this respect, you can firstly set out that you would like the company to reconsider your previously informal request for a job share and note that this is your preferred outcome. However, you can then note that if there are proper reasons for refusing this request, then you would like the company to also consider a reduction in your hours and set out what you would like in this respect. You can be very general if you so wish.
3) Explain what effects you consider your change will have on the company (both for a job share and reduced hours) and how these may be dealt with.
4) Confirm the relationship between you and the child.
There are set statutory grounds upon which your employer can refuse your application, for example, the burden of additional costs, inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff, detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand or detrimental impact on quality or performance etc. A refusal notice must set out which ground(s) apply and provide a sufficient explanation as to why these apply. After you have lodged your formal request to work flexibly, your employer should arrange a meeting with you within 28 days to discuss the same. There are then set timescales in which he must provide a decision.
If your request is refused on one of the business grounds stated above, you should be given the right to appeal. Under the statutory procedure, you must appeal within 14 days. You should refer to the reasons for the refusal and try to offer counter arguments as to how you feel that the issues could be resolved. If by the end of the procedure, your request has been refused and you do not believe that your employer has properly established a business ground, you could have potential claims for constructive unfair dismissal, breach of the statutory flexible working procedure and/or sex discrimination. In the event that you require further information regarding your request or the potential claims that you could bring at Tribunal, please contact Tracey Guest on 0161 975 3823.