Is there any right of appeal where an employer rejects an application for flexible working?

Section 80G of the Employment Rights Act 1996, which sets out how employers should deal with statutory applications for flexible working, requires employers to deal with such applications in a reasonable manner. It does not set out specific procedural requirements, so employees do not have a statutory right to appeal a decision to reject an application.

While there is no duty on employers to hold an appeal set out in the legislation, the Acas code of practice on handling in a reasonable manner requests to work flexibly recommends that employers should allow employees to appeal the decision. The code will be taken into account by employment tribunals in relevant cases.

If an employer does not include an appeal stage in its process for handling flexible working requests, it may be able to argue that it has handled a request in a reasonable manner if it deals with any complaint about the rejection of the request under its grievance procedure, having advised the employee to raise a grievance if they are not happy with the decision. It will be for a tribunal to decide in each case whether or not an employer has handled the request in a reasonable manner.

Employers must factor any appeal process into the timetable for dealing with flexible working applications. Under s.80G of the Employment Rights Act 1996, the employer must notify the employee of its decision on any appeal within three months of the date of the application, unless a longer period is agreed with the employee.