Flexible Working Requests [Video]Posted in : Back to Basics on 25 May 2016
Under the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996, an employee who has at least 26 weeks continuous service with their employer has the legal right to make a flexible working request.
The legal right to request flexible working now applies to all employees irrespective of whether they have caring responsibilities for children or adults, as was the position prior to April 2015.
A flexible working request is a request made by an employee, to their employer, asking for a permanent variation to the terms and conditions of their employment such as a change to the hours that they work, a change to the times during which they are required to work, or indeed a change to the place at which they're required to work, for example a request to work from home.
Under the statutory regime, an employee may only make one formal request in a 12 month period. However, nothing prevents further informal requests being made by the employee. Both the employee and the employer should keep in mind that there is only a legal right for an employee to request flexible working.
There is not a legal right to be granted a flexible working request. However, employers are required to properly consider any formal request and may only refuse a request where there is a clear business ground for doing so.
A formal flexible working request must be in writing and requires certain information to be included by the employee. The employer, too, must follow the requirements under the statutory procedure, and should meet with the employee, to discuss and to consider the flexible working request.
An employer should keep in mind that the employee has the right to be accompanied by either a work colleague or a trade union representative at that meeting. The employee also has a right to appeal a decision to refuse their flexible working request.
We would always recommend that employers have in place a flexible working policy which sets out the procedure to be followed by both the employee, and the employer, when addressing flexible working. And the employer should ensure that their flexible working policy complies with the current legal framework.This article is correct at 25/05/2016
The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.