Previously, under the Employment Rights Act 1996, employees could apply for flexible working hours if they were parents of children aged under 17 (18 in the case of parents of disabled children, or to those caring for an adult. Since June 30th 2014, all employees can now request flexible working hours.

Who can apply?

Employees who have been working for your company for at least 26 weeks. Those employed for less than 26 weeks, agency workers and office holders do not have the right.

An employee can only make one statutory request in any 12 month period.

What’s the employer’s right?

Employers have the right to refuse applications, but you must explain to employees why, in writing. The reasons given must be valid business ones.

Handing applications

Following an application, a meeting should take place to discuss arrangements, unless an employer is happy to comply with all parts of the request.

The consideration process must be completed within 3 months of first receiving the request, including any appeal.

Avoid discrimination

The best thing to is to develop a right to request policy. It’s a great way of creating a consistent method for handling requests, so that each employee is treated in the same way.

This request should be developed in collaboration with employees and/or their representatives, and should include:

- Who has the right to apply
- How to apply
- What to include in applications
- A statement that the application will be considered, and only rejected for valid reasons
- Potential reasons for rejection
- Who can attend a meeting, with an employee, regarding the request
- Tme limits for both parties

When considering applications, ensure that you are not breeching the Equality Act 2010, which prohibits discrimination because of protected characteristics (such as age, gender, disability and religion).

Reasons for rejecting application

Acas suggests 8 reasons for rejecting applications:

- Unacceptable additional costs to the business
- An inability to reorganise work among existing staff
- Inability to recruit additional staff
- Change will have a detrimental impact on quality of work
- Change will have a detrimental impact on performance
- Change would have a detrimental effect on the business’ ability to meet customer demand
- Insufficient work during the periods the employee proposes to work
- Working changes may not fit with planned structural changes to the business


Employees have the right to appeal your decision to refuse applications, or file a grievance if they feel the request wasn’t handled properly or in line with your company policy.


This article was produced by Tirebuck Recruitment, specialists in financial & executive recruitment in Solihull.