The department's decision on the employee's request for flexible working must be given to that employee within 14 days of the date of the meeting. The department's decision must be given in writing, and dated. There are acceptance and rejection forms for this purpose. However, if you prefer, you may send this information in the form of a letter.
The department and employee may agree to extend the 14-day time scale because, for example, the department requires more time to examine the requested flexible working arrangement. In such a case, the extension should be conveyed to the employee concerned in writing.
- Agreeing requests
Except where the timescale has formally extended, an employee should be notified of the outcome of their application within 14 days of the meeting.
There is a pro-forma application acceptance form (form FW(B)) which can be used, or, if you prefer, you may write a letter. Whatever confirmation is sent it should include a description of the new working pattern and state the date when the new working pattern will become effective.
Depending on the nature of the change, a change in working pattern may require a contract amendment to be issued. If you need advice on this, contact your HR Business Partner.
Any changes should be made to the CoreHR system and Payroll should be notified of any changes to working hours which require a salary adjustment, using the Payroll and Contractual Change form.
- Trial period
If you are uncertain about the impact that a request for flexible working will have on the department, you may wish to allow the employee to work under the requested flexible working arrangement for a trial period to determine in practice whether that arrangement could be successfully implemented.
For example, if a part-time working arrangement is having an adverse effect on the department during a trial period you will be in a better position to demonstrate this to the employee concerned.
Remember you can always extend the time limit if you wish to accommodate a trial period. If you decide to do this, the agreement must:
- be recorded in writing by the department
- be dated
- specify what time limit the extension relates to, and
- specify the date on which the extension is to end.
You should also clearly spell out:
- that your agreement to the employee's request for flexible working is subject to the outcome of the trial period
- the length of the trial period (when the period starts and when it ends)
- that the change to the employee's terms and conditions of employment during the trial period is a temporary change only
- the exact nature of the temporary changes to the employee's terms and conditions of employment during the trial period (eg a change in working hours), and
- the date on which the employee will revert to his or her previous terms and conditions of employment if, after the trial period, the department rejects his or her request for flexible working.
If you decide to reject the request for flexible working following the trial period, you should ensure that you give your employee sufficient time to re-adjust to their previous terms and conditions of employment. For example, the employee should be given sufficient time to make alternative care arrangements or reorganise their other activities. In effect this could, by agreement, extend the length of the trial period.
If the department agrees with the employee's request for flexible working following a trial period, you must also specify the flexible working arrangement and any contractual variation that has been agreed to and the date that the arrangement and, where appropriate, the contractual variation will begin.
- Refusing requests
If the department refuses the employee's request for flexible working either with or without a trial period, you must state the operational grounds for that refusal and provide a sufficient explanation as to why those grounds for refusal apply in relation to the request.
Please note that the Flexible Working Regulations 2014 specify that an employer can only refuse a request for flexible working on one or more of the statutory grounds listed below:
- the burden of additional costs,
- a detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand,
- an inability to re-organise work among existing staff,
- an inability to recruit additional staff,
- a detrimental impact on quality,
- a detrimental impact on performance,
- insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work,
- planned structural changes.
It is important that you think about the operational reasons listed above in relation to the operating practice of your department. If you are not able to accommodate the suggested working pattern, you should be willing to think about other options which may be acceptable to the department and employee and to negotiate these with the employee.
If you do have to refuse the employee's request for flexible working, you should at the same time notify the employee of the appeal procedure.