Flexible Working Requests: Not Just a Formality

By Gary Smith


In a timely reminder of the importance of properly dealing with flexible working requests, a former estate agent was awarded £185,000 compensation from her previous employer after an employment tribunal found in favour of her claim of indirect sex discrimination.

The employer denied  a flexible working request made so as to allow the employee to pick up her daughter from nursery. The request was made as the employee returned from maternity leave and asked for shorter hours, a four day working week and to finish at 5pm to pick up her child.

The employee confirmed that she was fully open to negotiate a compromise if her initial request was not acceptable. However, the employer claimed that they could not afford for her to work part-time or on flexible hours and confirmed that they were not prepared to negotiate the position further. As a result, the employee resigned and brought a claim against the employer at the employment tribunal.

The employment tribunal found that the employer had failed to properly consider the flexible working request and awarded the employee £185,000 for loss of earnings, loss of pension contributions, injury to feelings and interest.

This case is particularly pertinent with the return to work over the past few weeks following the relaxation of the government’s work from home guidance. There have been a surge of requests for flexible or hybrid working and it is vital that employers consider these properly and follow the correct statutory processes.

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