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Employment law guide

Flexible working

Employees who qualify, by having 26 weeks continuous employment with their employer, have a right to apply to vary their contract of employment to allow flexible working. Their employer must consider that application and may only refuse it where the employer considers that specified grounds apply.

The right applied from June 30th 2014. Before that date, the right only applied to the parent, adopter, guardian or foster parent, or person married to or the partner of, a person in that position, of a child under 17, (or under 18 in the case of a disabled child). This included a same sex partner.

A qualifying employee may apply to his employer for a change in his or her contract of employment so long as the change relates to:

Only one application may be made in 12 months and it must be in writing.

After an application is made the employer has a duty to deal with it in a reasonable manner and inform the applicant of the decision within three months.

The employer can refuse the application if it is considered that one or more of the following grounds apply:

1. the burden of additional costs,
2. detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand,
3. inability to re-organise work among existing staff,
4. inability to recruit additional staff,
5. detrimental impact on quality,
6. detrimental impact on performance,
7. insufficiency of work during the periods you propose to work,
8. planned structural changes.

If the employer has failed to deal with the application or the employee considers that the employer has decided the application on incorrect facts then the employee can complain to an Employment Tribunal who may order the employer to reconsider the application or award compensation up to eight weeks’ pay (limited to the same statutory amount as a week’s pay for redundancy and unfair dismissal compensation).

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