Right to request flexible working

Fiona Cuming

Editor's message: Flexible working allows employees to shape their working week around other commitments or outside interests. Many employees have the legal right to request flexible working - a statutory request can be made after 26 weeks’ continuous service.

Your organisation could benefit in a number of ways from promoting a culture of flexible working, including attracting a wider range of candidates for roles, increasing productivity and reducing absence levels.

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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