Settlement Agreements and Flexible Working

Employment disputes and settlement agreements often arise from flexible working issues.

From 30 June 2014, provided that an employee has completed the 26 week required period of service, he or she will have the statutory right to request a change to their contractual terms and conditions of employment (i.e change of hours and/or location). There will be no exceptions based on the size of the employer although, as at present, an employee is only entitled to make one request in any 12 month period.

In anticipation of an increased number of applications employers will be free from the formulaic statutory procedure for considering flexible working requests. In its place the employer now has a duty to consider all requests in a reasonable manner, within a reasonable period of time and to ensure that any employee won’t suffer any detrimental treatment for making a request.

Any failure by an employee to attend a meeting to discuss the application and the subsequent rearranged meeting without a good reason will enable you to treat the request as withdrawn.

The only business reasons under which a request may be rejected are: the burden of additional costs, an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff or to recruit additional staff; a detrimental impact on quality or on performance; a detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand for the periods the employees proposes to not work or finally a planned structural change to the business.

It is important to remember that a right to request does not create a right for any employee to work part or flexi time. ACAS has published a code of practice which will form the basis of any Tribunal decision to assess whether employers have acted in a reasonable manner.

If you require advice on settlement agreements or flexible working, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team.

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