Many employers are under a misconception that an employee has the right to change their hours and work flexibly if they want to. This is an exaggeration of the operation of the law and employees only have the right torequest flexible working. The employer does, however, have to follow a statutory procedure when an employee makes a request and there is a duty upon them to consider the request. A request may be to work fewer days in the week; shorter days; to start later and finish later, for example. This statutory procedure is confined only to those employees who are eligible to make a statutory request i.e. those who have 26 weeks’ service at the date of the request and those who have the prescribed relationship with the child in question if the request is made in relation to a child, or with the individual in question if the request is made because the employee has caring responsibilities. If the employee does not meet the eligibility criteria, the request does not fall within the statutory process and therefore you may deny the request in the first instance, if you choose to. Where an employee does meet the criteria, you must follow the statutory procedure which can include having a meeting with the employee and informing them of the decision within set timescales. There are several prescribed reasons that you can use for denying a request made under the statutory procedure. These are: · The burden of additional costs: · Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand; · Inability to reorganise work among existing staff; · Detrimental impact on quality; · Detrimental impact on performance; · Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work; · Planned structural changes. False reliance on one of the above reasons can result in a claim at tribunal so it is vital that any refusal reflects the true situation. If a tribunal finds that a request was refused and none of the specified grounds apply, then it can order that the request be reconsidered. It can also award the employee a maximum of 8 weeks’ pay. For further clarification on this subject please contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.