Flexible working: the law and best practice
Refusing a flexible working request
If you decide that you cannot accommodate any kind of flexible working for an employee, you must write to them:
- stating which of the listed business ground(s) apply as to why you cannot accept the request
- providing an explanation of why the business reasons apply in the circumstances
- setting out the appeal procedure
This written notice must be dated.
The business grounds for rejecting a flexible working request
You can only reject a flexible working request on a limited number of set grounds.
- planned structural changes
- the burden of additional costs
- a detrimental impact on quality/performance/ability to meet customer demands
- the inability to recruit additional staff
- a detrimental impact on performance
- the inability to reorganise work among existing staff
- a detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
- lack of work during the periods the employee proposes to work
Explaining your refusal of a flexible working request
In your written refusal of a flexible working request, you must explain why the business ground applies in the circumstances. If an employee understands why a business reason is relevant, they are more likely to accept the outcome and be satisfied that you have considered their application seriously - even if it isn't the outcome they wanted.
You do not have to go into a lot of detail, but you should include the key facts about why the business ground applies.
If you make a decision to reject a flexible working application based on incorrect facts, this would give the employee grounds to make a complaint to an industrial tribunal.
See form FW (C): Flexible Working Application Rejection Form in the Labour Relations Agency's (LRA) guidance and templates on flexible working: the right to request and duty to consider.
LRA Workplace Information Service03300 555 300