Did you know that there are 8 legal reasons to reject a request? 

In 2024 we will to see the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 come into effect, after it received royal assent on the 20th July 2023.

This Act is very likely to have an impact on the world of work and employers will have a legal obligation to deal with requests in a reasonable manner.  

Did you know that there are 8 legal reasons to reject a request? 

  • It will cost too much – You can refuse a flexible working request if it will be a financial burden on your business. 
  • An inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff – Do you have employees with specific skills? If one of these employees expressed interest in flexible work arrangements, how easy would it be for you to rearrange their work amongst existing staff? 
  • Cannot recruit more staff – An employee submits a flexible working request to leave an hour early every day. How would you go about recruiting someone to work just one hour per day? It would of course be impractical and consequently this is a justified reason to refuse a flexible working request. 
  • Negative effect on performance – If the request is likely to substantially hinder an employee’s capacity to fulfil their job responsibilities, the request can be rejected. 
  • Negative effect on quality – A head of department or a customer-facing manager wishes to work two days per week. Will customers suffer because that employee is absent for three days of the working week? 
  • Negative effect on meeting customers demand – Most restaurants experience their highest activity levels on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. Should an employee request to work Mondays and Tuesdays only, this arrangement could impede the establishment’s ability to cater to peak customer demand during its busiest intervals. 
  • Insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work – Taking the restaurant scenario as an example once more, if an employee seeks to work only on a Monday and Tuesday, declining the request could be appropriate if there isn’t enough work to justify staffing during those specific timeframes. 
  • Planned structural changes to the business – If you’re going through a restructure or a redundancy, these are legitimate reasons to refuse a flexible working request. 

While the reason for the refusal must be genuine, employers must also handle the request in a ‘reasonable manner’, which should be in accordance with the ACAS code of practice on handling flexible working requests. 

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