Guide

Flexible working - the law and best practice

Considering flexible working requests

You should acknowledge receipt of the employee's flexible working request in writing.

All statutory flexible working requests must be seriously considered with the aim of deciding whether your business can accommodate the requested work pattern.

Under the statutory procedure, you should hold a meeting with the employee to discuss their request. If you cannot accommodate the requested working pattern, you may still wish to explore alternatives to find a working pattern suitable to you both.

You can also agree to a flexible working request simply on the basis of the application itself without the need for a meeting, but it would be good practice to meet with the employee to discuss any practical issues for implementation.

Incomplete application

If the application is incomplete, you can ask the employee to resubmit it and inform them that you do not have to consider the application until it is resubmitted.

If the employee refuses to provide you with the information needed, you can treat the application as withdrawn. The employee will not be able to make another application for another 12 months.

Meeting to discuss the application

You should arrange a meeting with the employee within 28 days of receiving their valid application. If it is difficult to arrange a meeting within this period, seek the employee's agreement to extend it.

Failure to hold a meeting within the 28-day period or any extension, without the employee's agreement, will be a breach of the procedure.

You should arrange the meeting at an appropriate time and place that is convenient for all.

The right to be accompanied

The employee has the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union representative who works at any other premises which forms part of the business.

The companion can address the meeting and confer with the employee during it, but may not answer questions on behalf of the employee.

If the companion is unable to attend the meeting, the employee must seek to rearrange the meeting. It should take place within seven days of the date of the original meeting.

You must pay both the employee and their companion for the time off from their normal working duties to attend the meeting.

What happens if the employee fails to attend the meeting?

If the employee is unable to attend the meeting, they should contact you as soon as possible to explain their absence and allow you to rearrange it for the next mutually convenient time.

If the employee fails to attend the meeting more than once without a reasonable explanation, you can treat their application as withdrawn and you should write to them to confirm this.