Flexible working: legal rights

Employers must adhere to three general principles when dealing with part-time workers:

• employers should not treat part-timers less favourably than full-timers

• employers should, as far as possible, make opportunities for part-time work at all levels

• refusal to transfer from full-time to part-time work or vice versa is not in itself a valid reason for dismissal.

Since 30 June 2014 all employees have had the right to request flexible working if they have worked for the employer for 26 weeks continuously at the time the application is made. The right is only a right to request – but it must be taken seriously by the employer. If the employer grants the request it forms a permanent change to the employee’s contract and they do not have a right to return to their previous pattern of work unless the change is for a defined time period. The types of flexible working an employee may request cover:

• hours of work

• times of work

• place of work, e.g. home working.

Acas has produced a Code of Practice and a guide to handling requests for flexible working. They can be downloaded from www.acas.org.uk.