Your employer can reject your request for flexible working on only one of two grounds:
Although there is no legal requirement for it to do so, your employer should also provide you with written reasons explaining the reasons why your request has been rejected (following ACAS guidance). If your employer does not provide you with written reasons for the rejection you should send your employer an email requesting written reasons for the rejection.
Again, there is no legal requirement for your employer to allow you an appeal against the decision to reject your flexible working request. However, the ACAS Code states that employees should be allowed to appeal against the decision if you: 1) identify information that was missed or not available when the original decision was made; or 2) believe that your employer’s policy or the ACAS Code were not finished.
If your employer has rejected your flexible working request then you should submit an appeal in writing (preferably by email) outlining the grounds of your appeal.
If your employer allows you to appeal against the decision to reject your flexible working request then an appeal meeting should be held.
If your employer rejects your appeal and you continue to be unhappy about the way the flexible working request was dealt with then it is normally sensible, tactically, to:
Submitting a grievance could, potentially, persuade your employer to overturn its original decision; equally, it will be useful evidence if the case ever goes to the Employment Tribunal. Submitting a subject access request will potentially unearth useful evidence relevant to how the flexible working request was dealt with (such as, for example, communications between senior management regarding how the flexible working request was processed).
If your employer deals with your request for flexible working unfairly then you could have the following potential grounds of claim:
Consider whether any of these forms of claims would apply.
If you believe that you have been discriminated against or constructively dismissed by your employer’s conduct then it is recommended that you collect evidence to support your claims – this would include both documentary and witness evidence. You will want to collect any written evidence which supports your argument that you have, for example, been discriminated against: this would include emails, text messages, other electronic messages, notes of meetings, transcripts of telephone calls, relevant policies of your employer’s etc.); you will also want to collect witness statements from any third parties who witnessed the conduct that you are complaining of.
Collecting this information at an early stage can help you to gain an understanding of how strong your case is and will be helpful to any lawyer assessing your case.
If you think that you have been treated unreasonably in relation to your flexible working request (or any other workplace dispute) then it is a good idea to seek advice from a specialist employment lawyer – doing so will allow you to gain a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your case, your options, and the costs and benefits of taking legal action.
Chris Hadrill is a solicitor (Partner) in the employment team at Redmans Solicitors and a member of the Employment Lawyers Association. He advises on employment law and workplace disputes on behalf of employees and employers on a daily basis.