If an employee appeals - Responding to a flexible working request

If an employee appeals

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.

It's a good idea to listen to an appeal if your employee:

There's no legal right for an employee to appeal a flexible working request. But if you consider their appeal, it can help resolve any issues your employee might have, without them taking it further.

If you have an appeal meeting

If you set up an appeal meeting about a flexible working request, your employee might ask to bring someone with them, for example a co-worker or trade union representative.

There's no legal right for them to bring someone, but it's good practice to allow it.

Allowing the employee to bring someone can:

  • show your process is open and fair
  • make the meeting more relaxed
  • reduce anxiety or stress for your employee
  • give your employee someone to talk through their options with

Responding to an appeal

If you look at an appeal, it should be dealt with as quickly as possible.

There is a time limit of a maximum of 3 months of receiving a request for you to give a decision, including any appeal. If you need more time, you can only extend the time limit if your employee agrees.

If an agreement cannot be reached

If an agreement cannot be reached through the appeal process your employee might take further action. Depending on the situation they could:

  • take legal action against you
  • use arbitration
  • reach an agreement with you through mediation

If your employee takes legal action

Your employee might be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal if they feel their flexible working request:

An employer must not cause an employee 'detriment' because they:

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

Detriment means they experience one or both of the following:

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

Examples of detriment could be:

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

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

Instead of going to an employment tribunal

If your employee has made a legal claim or has a potential legal claim, it might be possible to use Acas arbitration for some flexible working cases. This is 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 business. If they're from outside your business, you might need to pay.

Both sides will need to agree to mediation.

Your employee is likely to consider employment tribunal time limits when deciding whether to take part in mediation.

Find out more about mediation

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