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5 things employers need to consider before rejecting a request for flexible working hours

Flexible working hours








It’s important to note that every employee that has worked for you for more than 26 consecutive weeks has the right to request for flexible working hours, this isn’t just a law that relates to parents. Employees can ask for part time work, varied hours, or even to work from home. Before you refuse these applications, you must consider these five things:


  1. The Law

You must remember that every single request must be dealt with in a reasonable manner – as laid out in the ACAS code of practice document. If you do not adhere to these standards, you may be taken to an employment tribunal… and rejecting a request  for flexible working hours without fully considering it isn’t acceptable.


  1. The Possibilities

You can actually make these flexible working hours work for you too. You may need to schedule them around your employee, but that doesn’t need to have a negative impact on your business. For example you can split the job with someone else, you can ask them to work compressed hours – the same amount of full time hours over less days, or you can stagger the hours that they work. There isn’t any reason for productivity to drop.


  1. Family Friendly Policies

Offering your employees the chance to live their own life outside of work will make them much more likely to not only work harder for you, but to stick with your company for much longer too. Offering solid maternity leave, parental leave, and flexibility are some of the top things that encourage people to stay at their jobs… this will save you a lot of money and effort on retraining new staff in the long run.


  1. The Procedure

It’s very important to let your employees know about the standard procedure for this sort of request, so that everyone knows exactly where they stand. There can be forms or letters sent to you with the request, in which a decision needs to be made within 3 months. If the change is agreed, a new contract must be written, but if it’s refused, it is up to the employee what they do next. Be aware that they may wish to go to an employment tribunal.


  1. The Right To Refuse

You do have the right to turn down an application, but you need to have a solid reason for doing so. According to, the following reasons are acceptable:

  • The change will bring on extra costs that will damage the business.
  • The work can’t be reorganised among other staff.
  • People can’t be recruited to do the work.
  • Flexible working will affect quality and performance – you will need to be able to prove this.
  • The business won’t be able to meet customer demand as it has been doing.
  • There’s a lack of work to do during the proposed working times.
  • The business is planning changes to the workforce… if this is the case, you may need to reconsider afterwards.

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