How to deal with an employee request for flexible working

As an employer, you are required to consider an employee’s request for flexible working reasonably. If you want to decline the request, then you need to give a valid business reason for doing so.

When dealing with a flexible working request, you should follow the ACAS Code of Practice on flexible working requests.

Receiving a flexible working request

If an employee has been employed for at least 26 weeks, they have a right to request flexible working, providing they have not already made a request in the previous twelve months.

In most circumstances the request can be dealt with informally.  If this is not possible a formal procedure should be followed.  The request should be in writing, setting out what the employee wants to happen and how they intend to achieve it without damaging your business.

Flexible working includes:

  • Flexitime, where the employee can choose when to start and finish but will usually work agreed core hours, such as 10 am – 4 pm
  • Staggered hours, where the employee starts or finishes earlier or later than other workers
  • Compressed hours, where the hours worked are compressed into four days rather than five
  • Working from home
  • Hybrid working, where employees work both at home and at the office

Considering a flexible working request

You are legally required to consider a request for flexible working. If you do not agree to the request, you should let the employee know and provide the reasons why the request has been refused within a maximum of 3 months of the request being made, though the earlier you can make the decision the better.

Refusing a flexible working request

Examples of when a flexible working request can be declined are:

  • The change will be too costly for your business
  • The work your employee would have done cannot be shared among other staff members
  • You cannot recruit additional employees
  • The quality of work done will be adversely affected
  • The performance of your business will be adversely affected
  • Your business will be less able to meet customer or client demands
  • There is insufficient work to be done at the time your employee wishes to work
  • You are planning to reorganise your business and the flexible working requested will not fit in with your plans

It is advisable to hold a meeting with your employee if you are refusing their request. This gives you the opportunity to explain why you have turned them down and allows them to ask questions and suggest possible alternatives.

Contact our employment solicitors in Gloucester

If you are dealing with employee requests for flexible working and you would like to discuss your options with an expert employment lawyer, please feel free to call our team.

Our employment and dispute resolution partner and solicitor, Alex Lyttle, deals with a wide range of employment law issues for businesses in all sectors.

To speak to Alex, ring him on 01452 222 433, email him at or request a call back.

To contact us please call 0800 158 4147 or 03330 145451 or email

Contact us
  • Call us

  • Make an enquiry