I am due to return to work after maternity leave. I put in a request to change my working hours from five to two days. I was told two days wasn’t possible as the office wouldn’t be fully staffed each day, would incur a detrimental impact on my employer’s ability to meet customer demand and that they would not be able to reorganise work among existing staff. So I agreed to return three days per week. Since then I’ve heard another member of staff doing a similar role is dropping to part time from five days to two. I haven’t mentioned it to my employer yet as I don’t know if they are within their rights to do this. I don’t really know what to say to them either.
A formal request for flexible working can be refused on the basis that there would be a detrimental impact on the employer’s ability to meet customer demand or that they are not able to reorganise work among existing staff. It seems, however, that your employer’s explanation for refusing your request may not be entirely accurate if another member of staff doing the same job has had a similar request accepted.
You have the right to complain to an Employment Tribunal if a formal request for flexible working was refused on incorrect facts. The Tribunal can award you up to 8 weeks’ pay. You must contact ACAS for Early Conciliation within three months of the decision to reject your application.
It may be that your request was refused on incorrect facts if it were possible for your colleague to drop to two days per week. However, there may be different circumstances, particularly if the two requests were dealt with some time apart.
Before raising any complaint, I suggest you ask your employer for an explanation as to why your colleague was able to reduce her work to two days, but you have been told that was not possible.