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Right to request flexible working

05 April 2011

The right for employees to request flexible working has been around for some time. It was introduced in April 2003 and extended in April 2009 to cover parents with children under the age of 17 (or 18 in the case of disabled children).

Many wrongly believe that employees are entitled to work flexibly. In fact, the right is to make a request to work flexibly. The employer can refuse if there are grounds to do so.

As is often the case with employment law, the correct process has to be followed when dealing with a request, regardless of whether it is being accepted or rejected. If the employer is refusing, he must explain the grounds for his decision to the employee.

If he accepts the arrangement, the employer should write to the employee confirming the variation that is being agreed and when it will take effect. Any change will be permanent, unless agreed otherwise.

Compensation for failing to properly consider a request is capped at eight weeks’ pay. However an employee could also bring a claim for indirect sex discrimination – compensation for which is as long as the proverbial piece of string.

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