Responding to a flexible working request

If your employee appeals your decision

It’s a good idea to listen to an appeal if your employee:

There’s no legal right for an employee to appeal a flexible working request. But if you consider their appeal, it can help resolve any issues your employee might have, without them raising a formal grievance.

If you have an appeal meeting

If you set up an appeal meeting about a flexible working request, your employee might ask to bring someone with them, for example a co-worker or trade union representative.

There’s no legal right for them to bring someone, but it’s good practice to allow it.

Allowing the employee to bring someone can:

  • show your process is open and fair
  • make the meeting more relaxed
  • reduce anxiety or stress for your employee
  • give your employee someone to talk through their options with

Responding to an appeal

If you look at an appeal, it should be dealt with as quickly as possible.

There is a time limit of a maximum of 3 months of receiving a request for you to give a decision, including any appeal. If you need more time, you can only extend the time limit if your employee agrees.

If an agreement cannot be reached

Reaching an agreement through mediation

Mediation can be used to try and reach agreement over a flexible working request.

Mediation involves an independent, impartial person helping both sides to find a solution. The mediator can be someone from inside or outside your business. If they’re from outside your business, you might need to pay.

Both sides will need to agree to mediation. 

Find out more about mediation.

When there might be a risk of legal action

Your employee might be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal if they feel their flexible working request:

If an employee is treated unfairly

You must not treat your employee unfairly (cause them ‘detriment’) or dismiss them because they: 

  • made a flexible working request
  • intend to make a flexible working request

Your employee might be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal if they feel they’ve experienced detriment or been dismissed because of a flexible working request.

Instead of going to an employment tribunal

If your employee has made a legal claim or has a potential legal claim, it might be possible to use the Acas Arbitration Scheme for some flexible working cases. This is instead of going to an employment tribunal. 

You can be referred to the Acas Arbitration Scheme by:

  • a solicitor
  • Acas, if the employee has used early conciliation to tell Acas they’re making a claim to an employment tribunal

Both sides will need to agree to arbitration.