Employment Law Services

Declining Requests for Flexible Working
Guidance for Employers

The statutory right to request flexible working is available to plenty of employees, and if you as an employer receive such a request, employment laws require you to consider this request seriously.

There is no legal right that obliges employers to provide flexible working, only for employers to consider requests seriously.

Grounds under which an application for Flexible Working can be refused

An employer is only permitted to refuse a request made in accordance with the relevant employment laws if any of the following applies [1]

  • the burden of additional costs on the employer;
  • detrimental effect on your business’ ability to meet customer demand;
  • your inability as an employer to reorganise the work within the existing workforce;
  • your inability as an employer to recruit additional staff;
  • detrimental impact on quality;
  • detrimental impact on performance;
  • an employer’s inability to reorganise the work within the exsiting workforce;
  • insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work; and
  • planned structural changes.

Declining the Request for Flexible Working

If, following a meeting with the applicant, an employer reaches a decision that they cannot accommodate a flexible working request, the employer needs to notify the employee of this in writing, setting out which of the grounds apply. The employer’s written reasons need to provide an explanation of why the grounds being relied upon apply, and also advising the employee of the appeal procedure. The employer also needs to ensure this notice is dated, and issued within 14 days of the date the employer holds the meeting [2].


Employment Law Clinic can assist employers through this whole process, preparing the documents & ensuring the employer’s reasons are legally compliant – a much cheaper & safer option than getting it wrong and facing an employment tribunal claim.

If you are unsure about how to deal with a request for flexible working, contact Employment Law Clinic on 020 3397 2979, or complete the form below and we’ll contact you to provide assistance.

Footnotes: Employment Law Applying to Refusal Flexible Working Requests

[1] Section 80G of the Employment Rights Act 1996
[2] Regulations 4 & 5 of the Flexible Working (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2002


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