How should employers deal with requests for flexible working that are not made under the flexible working provisions, for example where an employee fails to follow the prescribed procedure or is ineligible to make a request?

Where an employee is eligible to make a request for a flexible pattern of work but fails to follow the correct procedure, the employer could either deal with the request regardless of the employee's failure, or invite him or her to submit the application in the correct way. This is preferable to refusing the request at the outset just because the employee failed to make a compliant formal application. Directing the employee towards the correct procedure reduces the likelihood of him or her later claiming that the employer failed to deal with a request for flexible working.

Where the employee is ineligible to make a flexible working request under the provisions, the employer could consider the request in any event, following its normal procedure. Doing so will help to create a positive working environment in which employees feel that that they are treated equally. It is also likely to reduce the risk of a discrimination claim arising out the employer's failure to consider a request for flexible working.