Flexible working is important for employees trying to balance their work and life commitments. Before 2003, there was no right for an employee to seek flexibility in their working hours or location from their employer. Over the years this has changed. Any person with parental responsibility for a child (or children) under 17 (18 if the child is receiving Disability Living Allowance) may apply.
Since April 2007, the right to request flexible working has been extended to employees with:
- responsibility for caring for their spouses/partners,
- certain categories of adult relatives, and
- adults living at the same address as the employee.
Only those employees who qualify can apply. To be able to request flexible working the employee must;
- not be an agency worker;
- have at least 26 weeks continuous employment experience with that employer;
- have responsibility for the care of a child under 6 (or under 18 if entitled to receive Disability Living Allowance);
- be the parent, foster parent, guardian or adopter of the child or the husband/wife of such a person.
An employee can request for flexible working time arrangements to work from home rather than the employer’s business premises. However, the employer is not obliged to consent to the request. The right to request flexible working is the right to ask an employer to seriously consider the request. An employer can refuse the request on grounds such as additional cost to the business, adverse impact on meeting customer service, inability to re-organise work amongst other staff, etc. The employer can only refuse the request on one of these grounds.
An application can be made to an Employment Tribunal (ET) by a qualifying employee if he/she considers the employer is in breach. An ET can order that the employer reconsider the application and can order compensation up to a maximum of eight weeks’ pay (capped at £350 per week). Depending on the precise circumstances of each case, claims might arise under the discrimination legislation, where there is no cap on the amount of compensation awarded.
An employee should note that only one application per year can be made and there is also no provision in the regulations for the employee to return to his/her pre-flexible working request terms and conditions once the child has attained 18.
We have acted for clients from Walsall, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Coventry, Stoke and from other parts of West Midlands.
Our employment lawyers can provide specialist legal advice in this area of law. To contact one of our dedicated employment lawyers, please telephone 01922 645 429 or complete our enquiry form.