Have you had your working from home request refused?
According to a study from the Trade Union Congress (TUC) many workplaces are now viewing remote or hybrid working as permanent fixtures. While homeworking is not a given if requested, employers should give a good reason if they refuse it.
A rise in home working
The proportion of employees regularly working from home has risen, according to the TUC study, from 6.8% in 2019 and 12.1% in 2020 to 22.4% in 2021. It also found that 9 in 10 of those who worked from home during the pandemic want to continue working remotely at least some of the time.
However, the study also highlighted that some staff are being denied homeworking requests without being given a good reason. Others have also experienced negative treatment from their employers as a result of working flexibly.
Right to refuse
There are only limited reasons why your employer can refuse a statutory flexible working request - these are usually down to whether or not the business may be adversely affected by someone working from home.
Your employer can reject a non-statutory request for any reason - in fact, they don’t have to give a reason at all.
For employers, this isn’t a recommended approach as it can damage the relationship with your employee. Try to listen and understand their request for flexible working. Maybe try it on a temporary basis and see if it works, or even offer the option of flexible working to the wider team, if it is practicable to do so. Given that, currently, the job market in many sectors seems very candidate driven (with many candidates being able to choose between multiple employment offers), employers are likely to need to show more flexibility regarding working patterns and remote working than historically.
For employees, try and make your request reasonable for your employer to accept. Can you still carry out your daily tasks to the best of your ability? Are your customers likely to see a drop in service as a result of your remote working? Could you think about an alternative first, such as different working hours, shifts, or a reduced schedule?
Have you been affected?
If you feel your request was denied on discriminatory grounds, the Citizens Advice Bureau has published a useful checklist here.
Both employee and employer should work to keep communications open at all times as this will help bring a difference in opinion on flexible working to a swift conclusion.
If you would like some further advice about remote working policies, or you’re an employee and you think your statutory flexible working request may have been refused unfairly, contact the employment team at Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.