Wednesday, 21 January 2015

What's the deal with flexible working hours?

Can company bosses ignore a request for flexible working hours from their staff?

The answer, in almost every single case, is ‘no they can’t’, according to employment law specialist John Mehtam, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford.

He said: “The law changed last summer to remove the statutory procedure which had to be followed when considering flexible working requests. But the law still requires employers to deal with all applications in what is described as a ‘reasonable’ manner.”

So what does ‘reasonable’ actually mean?

John said: “An employer must look carefully at the benefits of the requested changes in working conditions for the employee and the business, and weigh these against any adverse business impact of implementing the changes.

“Employers must remember that they are under no statutory obligation to grant a request to work flexibly if it cannot be accommodated by the business without causing significant inconvenience.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg found himself in hot water when he said on his LBC radio show that, although record numbers of workers were granted flexible working rights, employers could “ignore such requests if they want”.

John said: “There are a number of acceptable reasons for rejecting an application, but you can’t ever simply ignore it, as Mr Clegg incorrectly suggested. Companies would risk finding themselves facing an employment tribunal, and staff could have a case for a potential discrimination claim.”

All workers have the right to request flexible hours if they have worked for a company for at least 26 continuous weeks, and have placed their request officially, in writing.