If you want to appeal - Making a flexible working request

If you want to appeal

Important: This advice reflects the current law. We will update this advice in 2024 when new flexible working law comes into force. Read more about the new flexible working law on GOV.UK.

You can talk with your employer if you feel the decision was wrong or unfair. It's a good idea to do this informally at first.

It can help to:

  • explain why you feel the decision was wrong or unfair
  • share any information that was missed or not available when your employer made the decision
  • share any evidence if the request was not handled reasonably (for example, they did not follow the Acas Code of Practice on flexible working requests or their own policy)
  • listen to your employer's reasons for their decision
  • suggest any compromises you are willing to make

If you want to appeal, you should do so as soon as possible, or within the timeframe that your workplace might have set in their policy. 

Appeal in writing

You can also put your appeal in writing.

Your letter or email should say:

  • why you feel the decision should be looked at again (for example, there's new information that might affect the decision)
  • what you would like to happen next (for example, look at the new information and meet to discuss your flexible working request)

It’s up to your employer to decide if they'll consider your appeal.

How long an appeal takes

If your employer decides to consider your appeal, they should respond as quickly as possible.

Your employer must consider your whole request (including any appeal) within a maximum of 3 months of receiving the original request. Your employer can ask you for more time to make a decision, but only if you agree.

If an agreement cannot be reached

If an agreement cannot be reached through the appeal process and you want to take further action, you can consider:

  • making a formal complaint ('raising a grievance')
  • making a claim to an employment tribunal
  • using the Acas arbitration scheme
  • reaching an agreement through mediation

It's up to you to decide what you think the most appropriate option is to take. However, it's a good idea to check the time limits for making a claim to an employment tribunal when deciding whether you want to take things further.

Making a formal complaint

If you feel your request has not been handled fairly, you can raise a grievance. This is where you make a formal complaint to your employer.

Find out more about raising a grievance

Making a claim to an employment tribunal

You might be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal if you feel your flexible working request:

Usually your claim must be made within 3 months less 1 day of the final refusal of the request. This is known as the 'limitation date'. If you're not sure when your limitation date starts, you might find it useful to get legal advice.

Find out more about:

Instead of going to an employment tribunal

You might be able to use Acas arbitration for some flexible working cases, instead of going to an employment tribunal.

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 employer's business.

You can suggest mediation but both sides will need to agree to it.

Find out more about mediation

If you've been treated unfairly because of your request

An employer must not cause you 'detriment' because you:

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

Detriment means you experience one or both of the following:

  • being treated worse than before
  • having your situation made worse

Examples of detriment could be:

  • your employer reduces your hours
  • you experience bullying or harassment
  • your employer turns down your training requests without good reason
  • you are overlooked for promotions or development opportunities

If you feel you've experienced detriment or have been dismissed because of a flexible working request, you might be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal.

Making another request

You can make a new request if it's been more than 12 months since your last request.

Some employers will allow more than one request within 12 months, so it's worth checking your workplace's policy.

Last reviewed