You should get legal advice if your application becomes disputed.
Another way forward might be through workplace mediation. Speak to your rep and your employer to see whether mediation might work for you. You can find out more in this joint Acas and TUC guide explaining workplace mediation (PDF, 1.36MB).
If your request has been rejected on appeal and your employer has notified you of this, you complain to an employment tribunal. This might be on the grounds that your employer:
- rejected your application for a reason that was not in the permitted list of 'business' grounds;
- based their decision to reject the request on incorrect facts; or
- discriminated unlawfully against you.
The first (compulsory) step, before bringing any tribunal claim, is to submit an Acas Early Conciliation Notification Form. You must take this step within the three-month time limit for bringing your claim. If you fail to do this, the tribunal will not be allowed to hear your claim.
Acas early conciliation is free. For more information, see Early conciliation explained.
Deadlines in the employment tribunal are very short and very strict.
Instead of issuing an employment tribunal claim, you may opt to apply for binding arbitration of your dispute by an Acas arbitrator. This is not the same as Acas Early Conciliation. Acas binding arbitration involves Acas attempting to resolve your dispute from start to finish without the involvement of an employment tribunal. There is more information about this on the Acas website. Consult your union or legal adviser and Acas before going down this path to make sure you understand what is involved.
If your application to work flexibly is disputed or refused, you may have other rights under the following:
- protection from sex or disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010;
- health and safety law;
- negligence law; and
- your employment contract, where your employer has caused you to lose trust and confidence in it.
In some circumstances, the employer’s refusal to permit a woman to change to more child-friendly hours could amount to direct or indirect sex discrimination. So too could a refusal to permit a man to work child-friendly hours, when a request by a woman would have been agreed.
Where a worker is disabled, a refusal of their request for flexible working – such as a change to working hours – could be a breach of the statutory duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010.
You may also have the right to claim unfair dismissal if you are sacked following a disputed application or if you resign because it has not been handled fairly by your employer.