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Topic: Flexible working

Flexible working rejection letter
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Flexible working rejection letter

Flexible working rejection letter

If you wish to reject an employee’s flexible working request, you must provide a business ground for the refusal and should set out the reasons why the ground applies in the particular circumstances. You should also allow your employee to appeal the decision. Be particularly careful with flexible working applications made by women returning from maternity leave.

Rejection of request

If, after holding a meeting with the employee and carefully considering their application, you want to refuse it, you must provide a business ground for the refusal, preferably in writing, explain why this ground is relevant to the employee’s application and confirm any internal appeal procedure. Note. You can only refuse an application on one of a number of specified grounds, these being:

 the burden of additional costs

 a detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demands

 an inability to reorganise work amongst 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.

These grounds are covered in the Flexible Working Rejection Letter. You should also specify why the particular ground or grounds apply in the circumstances.

Tribunal challenge

If you fail to deal with the employee’s application in a reasonable manner, fail to notify them of your decision within the three-month decision period or fail to provide a sound business reason for refusing an employee’s request for flexible working, or if your decision is based on incorrect facts, the employee can complain to an employment tribunal. The tribunal doesn’t have the power to challenge the commercial validity of your decision but it can require you to reconsider the employee’s request and/or award the employee compensation of up to eight weeks’ pay (subject to the statutory maximum cap on a week’s pay).

Indirect discrimination

A refusal to permit a woman to work on a part-time basis (usually on her return from maternity leave) may result in a claim of indirect sex discrimination as a provision requiring employees to work full time has a disproportionate adverse impact on women due to the fact that women are more likely to be the primary childcarers. If your requirement has a detrimental impact on the particular female employee in question, you would then need to be able to objectively justify your decision as being a proportionate means of meeting a legitimate business aim. Therefore, where a female employee makes a flexible working request on her return from maternity leave, don’t just assume that if you follow a reasonable procedure and then turn her down on one of the specified business grounds, you will be safe. You need to be aware of the risk of an indirect sex discrimination claim so negotiate with her and explore all available options such as job shares, part-time working, homeworking, etc. In addition, bear in mind that you are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to working practices in relation to disabled employees.

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