The Employment Rights Act 1996 provides employees, who have at least 26 weeks' continuous employment, the statutory right to request flexible working.  This is where an employee wishes to change their working hours or place of work for a variety of reasons, which may include caring responsibilities or wanting to create a better work-life balance.

An employee may only make one statutory request in a 12 month period.

There may be some benefits to an employer in accommodating such requests where it allows remote working and hot desk arrangements.  Additionally, flexible working may:

  • create higher employee morale, where they are more satisfied with their work
  • assist in retention of staff
  • enhance the wellbeing of the employee

Any requests received must be considered by the employer and if there is any doubt as to whether it can be accommodated, a meeting must be arranged with the employee to discuss the matter.

Under the legislation, all requests must be considered and a decision provided within a three month period from first receipt.  If there are business reasons as to why the employer would be unable to achieve this timeframe, then the employer can mutually agree with the employee an extension to this period of time.

Should the employer be unable to accommodate the request, they may be able to offer the employee an alternative working pattern which they should discuss with them to see whether this can be mutually agreed.

If the decision reached is to decline the application, then the employer needs to refer to the legislation to understand on what business grounds they are able to reject the request.  The employer must also ensure that the employee has an opportunity to appeal the decision.

If you would like further guidance on this matter then please call Practical HR on 01702 216573 or email

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