Can I change my working arrangements if I care for an adult?
If you are an employee who cares for an adult, you also have the right to ask to work to a flexible working pattern. The right is limited:
- you must have worked for your employer for 26 continuous weeks; and
- you can only make one application every 12 months.
Types of flexible working
The sorts of working pattern that you might be able to follow include:
- annualised hours (calculating the hours you work over a whole year, instead of, for example, a week);
- compressed hours (working your total number of hours over fewer working days);
- working from home;
- staggered hours (allowing employees to have different start, break and finish times); and
- term-time working (allowing you to take paid or unpaid leave during school holidays).
How do I apply?
You can make only one application for flexible working patterns each year. You must apply in writing:
- setting out what changes you would like and when you want them to start;
- explaining any effect the changes will have on your employer and how you think they might be able to deal with these;
- explaining why you need flexible working patterns; and
- your relationship with the child or adult you will be caring for.
Within 28 days your employer must:
- tell you in writing that they agree to the changes; or
- arrange to meet you within the 28-day period to discuss your proposal.
If you have a meeting, your employer must write to you within 14 days after the meeting to:
- tell you they have agreed to a new work pattern and its start date; or
- give you clear business reasons why they can’t agree to a new work pattern, and tell you how you can appeal against this decision.
You can appeal against the decision within 14 days by writing to the employer, explaining why you think their decision is wrong. Your employer can either accept your appeal or hold an appeal meeting within 14 days of receiving your letter.
At any of these meetings, you can take a colleague with you if you wish.
You must be given a decision on your appeal, in writing, within 14 days of the meeting, including an explanation if your appeal is rejected.
When can my employer reject my application?
Your employer can reject your application on various ‘business grounds’, including that:
- the extra costs of your proposal would be too high;
- they would not be able to recruit extra staff or reorganise work among existing staff;
- the changes would have too great an impact on the quality of the business’s service or product or on its ability to meet the demands of its customers;
- there wouldn’t be enough work to do during the periods you plan to work; or
- your employer is planning changes to the structure of the organisation.
You can complain to the employment tribunal if your employer:
- rejects your application for reasons other than those they are allowed to give; or
- bases their decision on incorrect facts; or
- breaks the rules about how they must handle applications for flexible working.
If you take your complaint to an employment tribunal and you win your case, your employer may have to look at your application again or pay you compensation of up to eight weeks’ pay (or both). But the tribunal cannot force the employer to allow you to work in the way you asked for in your application.
Can a refusal be discrimination?
The law protects you from suffering unfair treatment or being dismissed for applying, or wanting to apply, for a change to your working pattern.
If you ask for flexible working and it is refused, this can amount to direct or indirect sex discrimination. Your rights to be protected from sex discrimination may apply and are not subject to the same limits as flexible working rights.
- the rights apply from the first day of your employment;
- they relate to requests in respect of children of any age; and
- there is no limit to the compensation that an employment tribunal can award under the Sex Discrimination Act.
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- Bringing a claim for unfair dismissal
- What if I’ve been made redundant?
- Bringing a claim for wrongful dismissal
- What if I've been discriminated against?
- What are my rights if I work part-time?
- What are my rights if I’m having a baby?
- Can I take leave as a new father?
- What are my rights if I'm adopting a child?
- Can I change my working arrangements if I have children?
- Can I change my working arrangements if I care for an adult?
- Can I take time off if I am someone's carer?
- Further help with employment law
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