Working mum’s guide to applying for flexible working

We’ve had an influx of emails asking about how to apply for flexible working recently.

It can be a daunting process, but as long as you do your reasearch, you should be fine – remember, the law requires that your employer takes your request seriously, and they rather than you need to show the business case for declining your application, or they’re breaking the law.

Flexible working isn?t just down to luck

How to apply

You need to make your application in writing at least

two weeks before your child’s sixth birthday (18th birthday if your child’s disabled) ? but as we have said, this rule will be extending to 16 years.

Your application must:
? be in writing (whether on paper, email or fax)
You can apply by either:
? filling in a form given to you by your employer
? filling in a standard form like this
? sending the required information in a letter or via email

What should be on your form
? be dated
? state that the application is made under the statutory right to request a flexible working pattern
? give details of the flexible working pattern you are applying for, including the date from which you want it to start ? if you are unsure or want to know the options, read {{post id=”different-types-of-flexible-working” text=”Different types of flexible working”}}
? explain what effect you believe the new working pattern would have on your employer, and how this can be managed
? either confirm you have responsibility for the upbringing of the child and that you are either the mother, father, adopter, guardian or foster parent or are married to or the partner of them
? or confirm that you care for, expect to be caring for, a spouse, partner, civil partner or relative or someone who lives at the same address as you
? state whether you have made a previous application and, if so, when ? you can only make one application a year, and any changes agreed will be permanent, unless you agree otherwise.
It is a good idea to mention the benefits to the business of flexible working in your application.

Withdrawing an application
If you decide to withdraw your application for flexible working, you should notify your employer as soon as possible, and in writing, to avoid any misunderstandings.

Your application will be treated as withdrawn if:
? you miss two meetings your employer arranges with you about your request, or
? you’re asked for information and don’t supply it

Discussing your application
Your employer must meet you to discuss your application within 28 days. If the person who’d usually consider your request is absent due to leave or illness, the 28 day time limit will normally run from when they return.

If you need some moral support, you can take a colleague or a union representative to the meeting with you.

At the meeting your employer might suggest alternatives to the working pattern you have asked for, or may suggest a trial period. It is up to you whether to agree to this.
Bear in mind that your employer might be unable to agree to your application but may be able to agree a compromise. But by law, they have to show that they have considered your request properly, being sure to avoid any possible discrimination (for example, sex discrimination).

Your employer?s response
Your employer must let you know their decision within 14 days of the meeting. If you both agree, this time limit can be extended (e.g. if your employer needs to speak to someone who’s on holiday, or your manager is absent through illness after you’ve applied).

A refusal doesn’t have to spell doom
If your request is refused, your employer must explain why. They must give business case for refusing your application, using one of these eight grounds, explaining why that reason applies:
? Burden of additional costs.
? Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand.
? Inability to reorganise work among existing staff.
? Inability to recruit additional staff.
? Detrimental impact on quality.
? Detrimental impact on performance.
? Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work.
? Planned structural changes.

What if your appeal is refused
You’re also entitled to appeal. Your employer must hold a meeting to discuss the appeal within 14 days of you giving notice of your appeal. They must notify you of their decision within 14 days of the meeting.

If your appeal is refused, check with your employer that there hasn’t been a misunderstanding of the procedure or facts. If there hasn’t, you can complain under the grievance procedure in your employment contract.

You can also take your employer to an employment tribunal (see {{post id=”taking-your-employer-to-a-tribunal” text=”Taking your employer to a tribunal” target=”_self”}}) or, if you and your employer prefer, take the matter to arbitration. You can make this type of formal complaint if your employer has failed to follow the procedure properly (for example, by not holding meetings with you or by rejecting your application on the basis of incorrect facts).

What to do if you have problems
The law protects you if you are dismissed or made to suffer a detriment (for example, refusal of promotion or training) as a result of applying for, being granted or complaining about flexible-working arrangements. If this happens, you have the right to complain to an employment tribunal.

Where to get help
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) offers free, confidential and impartial advice on all employment rights issues. You can call the Acas helpline on 08457 47 47 47 from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday.

The Department for Work and Pensions www.dwp.gov.uk

Have you read?

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