Editor's message: Many employees have the legal right to request flexible working - a statutory request can be made after 26 weeks’ continuous service.
A statutory flexible working request is a request that satisfies the requirements of s.80F of the Employment Rights Act 1996. The employee's request could be for shorter working hours, a shorter working week, flexitime, a system of staggered or annualised hours, job sharing, part-time work, self-rostering or permission to work from home.
If an employee makes a statutory request to work flexibly, you are not obliged to agree to it, but you are required to give it serious consideration and handle the request in a reasonable manner. There are certain permissible grounds for refusing a request, such as the burden of additional costs or an inability to reorganise work among existing staff or recruit additional staff. If you are unable to agree outright to an employee's request, you may be able to agree a compromise.
Fiona Cuming, employment law editor
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HR and legal information and guidance relating to the right to request flexible working.