Legal Eagle, 5th April 2004. Flexi-time

Marshall Field's Clock on State Street

Q. I have two young children and want to go on flexi-time. My employers are being awkward. Is there anything I can do?

A. If your children are under 6 your employers must take your request for flexible working arrangements seriously under recent changes to the legislation. If they don’t you can go to the Tribunal. You don’t have the right to flexible working. You do have the right to request it. You should do so in writing and better still get the advice from an employment lawyer before you start the procedure. You should set out the changes you are
applying for, the proposed effective date, the effect you think the change would have on your employer and how in your opinion any such an effect might be dealt with.

Your employer must then respond in writing if they agree to the changes or if they don’t agree, a meeting process has to be followed. The meeting
must take place within 28 days of your application. You can take a “companion” along. Within 2 weeks after the meeting your employer must provide a written and dated notification of their decision. If your application is rejected your employer should give reasons. They are set out in the legislation (for example, inability to re-arrange work amongst existing staff). You have the right to appeal within 14 days. If you appeal another meeting must take place, and 14 days after the appeal meeting, the employer must give a written and dated appeal decision.

If you are still not happy you can go to an Employment Tribunal (within 3 months) and the Tribunal can order reconsideration of the decision, award compensation (but capped to a maximum of 8 weeks’ pay at the statutory maximum currently of £270) or even consider an unfair dismissal claim if you have been dismissed or subjected to a “detriment” for exercising or proposing to exercise your rights under the flexible working provisions.