Is there an alternative to bringing an employment tribunal claim in respect of a dispute over an employer's handling of a statutory request for flexible working?
Yes, Acas operates an arbitration scheme for the resolution of flexible working disputes. Arbitration is intended to be quicker, more informal and less expensive than bringing a claim in an employment tribunal. It takes place in private and the decision made by the arbitrator is final, with only limited rights of appeal.
Once the parties to a flexible working claim have agreed to refer the matter to arbitration, Acas will appoint an arbitrator, to whom the parties will submit documentary evidence. An arbitration hearing will be held, which usually lasts for half a day. The arbitrator will examine the evidence, hear witness testimony and determine whether or not the employer handled the request in a reasonable manner or based the final decision on incorrect facts, depending on the nature of the dispute. The arbitrator may award compensation of up to eight weeks' pay (subject to the statutory cap on a week's pay) and/or order that the employer must reconsider the flexible working application. Awards are enforceable in the High Court or county court.