Top 5 tips for dealing with flexible working requests under the new regime

02 October 2014
  1. Firstly consider reviewing your policy as to how you are going to approach the new regime but in particular the scenario where 2 or more requests have to be considered at the same time and there is insufficient operational capacity to fully accede to each request. Although the case by case approach remains a legitimate policy to adopt, you may want to consider extending your policy to incorporate a wider ranging strategic review and employee consultation.
  2. Consider trial periods for proposed new working arrangements rather than rejecting the request. Be sure to make it clear that it is a temporary trial, specify the trial period and where necessary ensure you have the applicant’s agreement to extend the normal 3 month period for dealing with their request.
  3. Where a new request cannot be accommodated, do not be afraid to ask for volunteers from those who are already working flexibly and who may be willing to modify their arrangements. If no volunteers come forward and there is a risk that by rejecting the request you may face a discrimination claim, you can insist on changing existing arrangements after careful consultation.
  4. Although, in general terms eligible employees only have a right to request flexible working and are not entitled to it, you may have to go the extra mile to accommodate a request in certain circumstances. For example, a request from a disabled employee may in fact trigger your duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010.
  5. Even though it is not a legal requirement, ensure that you keep a detailed and accurate paper trail recording your rationale for deciding on each flexible working request.

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