Flexible working

Since 6 April 2003, employers in the UK have been under a legal obligation to consider applications for flexible working. Parents of young children have the right to submit a request to allow them to work ‘flexibly’, by changing hours, days or working from home.

The right applies to parents of children aged 16 or under (or under 18 if disabled) with more than 26 weeks’ service who have responsibility for the child’s upbringing and make the request to enable them to care for the child and where the employee is the ‘carer’ of an adult relative or someone living at the same address.
Carers of adults also have the right to make a request to work ‘flexibly’ on condition that the person in need of care is a spouse, civil partner or relative of the employee or lives at the same address as the employee.

The procedure for making a flexible working request is as follows:

• The employee makes a written request, specifying the change requested, and stating what effect (if any) the change will have on the employer.
• The employer must either agree to the request in writing or hold a meeting to discuss it with the employee within 28 days of the application.
• The employer must notify the employee in writing of its decision within 14 days of the meeting.
• The employee has the right of appeal against any refusal within 14 days of receiving the employer’s notification.
• The employer must hold a meeting with the employee within 14 days of receiving the notice of appeal in order to discuss the appeal.
• The employer must give the employee notice of its decision in writing within 14 days of the appeal meeting. If the appeal is dismissed, grounds of the dismissal must be provided by the employer.