Flexible working request cases on the increase

The number of employment tribunal decisions relating to flexible working have leapt by 52% in the past year.

The year 2020-2021 saw a record high of 193 cases, up from 127 in 2019-20, according to research.


The findings suggest that the rise in the number of claims for flexible working may be driven by employees resisting attempts by employers to bring them back into the office and failing to deal with flexible working requests in a reasonable manner.


Government guidelines state that while employees no longer have a statutory right to an appeal over any decision on whether they can work flexibly, if companies offer an appeals process, it will help to demonstrate that the employer is doing what it can to be reasonable.


Claims brought to the employment tribunals over flexible working are often brought alongside claims for discrimination.  Some employers may not be too concerned about the financial implications of a failure to comply with a flexible working request correctly as the maximum compensation if the employee brings a Tribunal claim is eight weeks’ pay, capped at the statutory maximum, £544 per week. However, the risks significantly increase where the employee brings a claim of indirect discrimination as well, challenging whether the employer can justify its reasoning.


This is most commonly framed as a sex or disability discrimination claim. Given that compensation in discrimination claims is uncapped, getting things wrong can be a costly mistake.


Should you receive a flexible working request ensure that this is managed using a Flexible Working policy. 121 HR Solutions can provide practical advice and support in such situations on 0800 9995 121

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