Flexible Working Request Denied

An employer must show a genuine business reason to deny a flexible working request. We can advise on your options following refusal.


Employees with more than 26 weeks’ service have the right to make a flexible working request within any 12-month period. 

While flexible working has the potential to help improve performance and morale among employees, it can also lead to workplace disputes, where the employer denies a request or is attempting to change pre-agreed terms.

Flexible working requests must be taken seriously by employers. Employers should have procedures in place to handle the requests in accordance with their legal duties.

If your employer has fallen short in their duties, you may be able to bring tribunal action against them.

Flexible working request denied?

An employer can refuse an application for flexible working, but they must have a genuine, good business reason for doing so. Only where the employer can show one of the following grounds can they lawfully refuse a flexible working request:

  • The burden of additional costs 
  • Inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff 
  • Inability to recruit additional staff 
  • Detrimental impact on quality
  • Detrimental impact on performance 
  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand 
  • Insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work 
  • Planned structural changes to the business


Employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees by refusing a request for flexible working. Flexible working requests are not just available to parents. Any employee who meets the minimum qualifying period can make one statutory request a year. The employee does not have to give a reason for making the request.

While the reason for the refusal must be genuine, employers must also handle the request in a ‘reasonable manner’, which should be in accordance with the ACAS code of practice on handling flexible working requests.

We can help

We can help employees with all aspects of flexible working and their rights under the flexible working rules.

If you have already made a flexible working request and this has been refused, we can explain your options for appeal or complaint, looking both at your employer’s decision and the process they followed in handling your request.

We can assess the merit of your case and identify options to resolve the issue through your employer’s internal procedures.

Where you have potential grounds to bring an employment tribunal claim, we will help build your case and guide you through the claim process from early stages and negotiations, through to representation at tribunal hearings.

If your employer wants to change an existing flexible working arrangement, we can advise on the implications on your contractual rights and legal options, and any issues relating to breach of contract.

We also have specialist expertise in disability-related claims and discrimination, where an employer’s refusal of a flexible working arrangement amounts to indirect discrimination.

To find out more about our destination services, speak to our specialists.


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