Frequently asked questions
In the UK, all employees have the legal right to request flexible working. Employees can do this through a process called “making a statutory complaint”.
Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s individual needs, which can be anything from having flexible start and finish times or working from home.
Legally, to be eligible for flexible working, employees must have been working for a single employer for at least 26 weeks.
Employers must deal with requests in a ‘reasonable manner’, which involves:
- assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the application
- holding a meeting to discuss the request with the employee
- offering an appeal process
Research by YouGov Omnibus tells us that 20% of HR managers believe that staff work to a slightly higher standard at home than they do in the office, and a further 7% believe they work to a “much higher” standard.
Even if the evidence for increased productivity from working from home isn’t enough to convince you to allow it, 49% of HR decision-makers think that it has no effect at all on output.
70% of organisations actively encourage employees to work from home.
For some roles and organisations, remote work might be impossible. With that said, an employer can refuse an application if they have a good reason for doing so.
If you do choose to refuse a flexible working application, as an employer, you must inform the employee that you’ve rejected their application.
Employers can reject an application for any of the following reasons:
- extra costs that will damage the business
- the work cannot be reorganised among other staff
- people cannot be recruited to do the work
- flexible working will affect quality and performance
- the business will not be able to meet customer demand
- there’s a lack of work to do during the proposed working times
- the business is planning changes to the workforce
- work physically cannot be done from home
Whilst working from home might present new hazards and risks, considerations shouldn't sway too much away from the same areas of consideration of risks that a workplace might have.
For example, in an office, a responsible person might highlight general Health & Safety, Fire Awareness, DSE, and GDPR & Cyber Security as potential risks and then sort out plans (and training) accordingly.
These same risks will be present in a home working situation but they'll more than likely present themselves in different ways.
According to the HSE, employers are required to protect the health, safety, and welfare of homeworkers who are employees. If you employ homeworkers you should carry out a risk assessment of the work activities and take appropriate measures to reduce any associated risks.