Flexible working request - reason for request?

(20 Posts)
Blankiefan Wed 11-Apr-18 19:03:47

Our standard flex working application form includes the question "reason for request". Should they be asking this question? Feels like a throwback to when requests were not a universal right.

OP’s posts: |
Looneytune253 Wed 11-Apr-18 19:08:31

But it’s not a given right? Wouldn’t it help the application to give a reason. Surely they’re more likely to consider it if there’s a valid reason?

AccidentallyRunToWindsor Wed 11-Apr-18 19:10:34

Everyone has the right to request it, but businesses can decline requests if they can't support it.

I guess it helps understand why you are looking for those hours and to lead a discussion around it?

ourkidmolly Wed 11-Apr-18 19:13:41

Well it's not a universal right. It's not actually a right at all. It's a right to request. The reasons could be multitudinous, care for a disabled partner, responsibilities towards elderly relative, dealing with cancer/I'll health. The reason will impact on the decision making process.

gingercat02 Wed 11-Apr-18 19:16:55

Obviously they need to know why and are also able to say no, no matter how valid your reason is if it doesn't work for the business

Blankiefan Wed 11-Apr-18 19:19:53

The reason should surely not have any bearing on the decision. It should be based on the business' ability / inability to meet the request.

I understand it's a right to request not be granted but everyone who has the length of service can apply. Why should my request to collect my child from school / look after my sick granny hold any more stock than my childfree friend's desire to improve her golf handicap?

OP’s posts: |
Lemongingertea80 Wed 11-Apr-18 19:20:29

You have a right to request irrespective of your reason but the reason you do or don't give will impact on the decision that is made.

Thurlow Wed 11-Apr-18 19:21:52

I get you. The reason why you might request flexible working has pretty much nothing to do with why they might or might not grant it - it's either doable for the business or it isn't, and it doesn't matter whether you're asking for flexible working because of childcare, looking after your nan or just wanting to work less hours

Lemongingertea80 Wed 11-Apr-18 19:28:04

To illustrate crudely why this is fair: your friend's desire to improve her golf handicap is not a legal requirement whereas your parental responsibilities to your child are. Therefore the arrangements you and your friend make around delivering your responsibilities to golf and offspring can reasonably be expected to impact upon your work commitments in different ways. An intelligent employer will be able to pick through these issues and balance them against business needs and their social responsibilities when making their decision.

AccidentallyRunToWindsor Wed 11-Apr-18 19:30:06

It helps your employer understand where this has come from, as well as any movement on this. Your friend may have wanted Monday's off to work on her golf but three other team members already have Mondays off so actually Wednesday is better- line manager can offer this instead.

Blankiefan Wed 11-Apr-18 19:35:29

It feels like a question that is intended to allow a judgement on the "worthiness" of the request. I'm surprised they are lawfully allowed to ask this still. Parallels for me of asking childcare questions in a job interview.

OP’s posts: |
pastabest Wed 11-Apr-18 19:39:21

My employer offers additional support to employees with caring responsibilities beyond flexible working so that would be one reason for them wanting to know the reason why.

It may also be that in most circumstances they are unable to accommodate flexible working but if the reason the request is being made might be the difference between losing or retaining a valued employee they may be more willing to inconvenience the business, or try and come to a compromise.

It's presumably also to try and weed out requests from people like my ex colleague who was offered their dream job apart from it was only part time. The company by weren't particularly impressed by the flexible working request that they wanted to drop to part time hours so they could effectively go and work the other half of the week for a competitor grin

ForeverBubblegum Wed 11-Apr-18 19:48:54

I presume it's to see if offering a compromise on hours would be an option.

Eg. If they can't manage you going at 2.45 but could offer a 3.30 finish. This compromise would not work if you have kids to pick up at 3.15, but might be an option for friend to have later golf game.

bananasandwicheseveryday Wed 11-Apr-18 22:02:29

I can see that if the request is for a situation which may be temporary, some businesses will possibly find a way to make it work for a short time, whereas it might not be possible on a long term basis. For example, several years ago I needed to be able to start work later than my usual time due to caring for a relative. My employer could not have accommodated this permanently, but, knowing it was a temporary situation, meant that he was able to arrange with work colleagues to cover my role for the time concerned. It would not have e been possible on a permanent basis and had my employer not known the reason for my request, would have had to refuse.

KittTheCar Wed 11-Apr-18 22:05:41

Yes that's a good point op I never thought of it like that.

Although I was always confused by this anyway, you have a "right to ask" but I mean they can always say no, I don't really understand how having the right to ask is much of an interesting thing. I mean, it wasn't illegal to ask before grin

leghairdontcare Wed 11-Apr-18 22:14:33

It's not required for a statutory application.

(see further info on gov.uk)

The application must include:

the date
a statement that this is a statutory request
details of how the employee wants to work flexibly and when they want to start
an explanation of how they think flexible working might affect the business and how this could be dealt with, eg if they’re not at work on certain days
a statement saying if and when they’ve made a previous application

If they are asking for further information about your personal circumstances then I think it's fair to ask for how this information is going to be used. Especially with impending GPDR regulations - companies really need to start thinking about what info they collect. As the reason should have no bearing on their decision, I would argue that it is not lawful of them to collect it.

As to why it's important that all people have a right to ask. I agree that everyone technically had the right to ask previous in that anyone could ask, however companies were not governed by the law in how they responded to those requests. They are now.

leghairdontcare Wed 11-Apr-18 22:18:20

Just seen this pop up in Trending Topics:

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/am_i_being_unreasonable/3219743-employer-being-nosy-about-hols?trending=1

Inspired by this, I want to change my advice to write about your anal bleaching schedule. They do things differently in AIBU grin

TheLastMermaid Wed 11-Apr-18 22:18:28

There might be legal obligations if the reason relates to disability or equality, which don't apply to golf-related motives.

flowery Wed 11-Apr-18 22:21:29

Reasons should have no bearing at all, you are right OP. Either they can accommodate it or they can’t, and my guess is they haven’t updated the form since the legislation changed and caring responsibilities were no longer a requirement.

I would suggest you ask HR why this information is needed.

itstimeforanamechange Fri 13-Apr-18 10:56:23

I am also wondering why a reason is needed. I do get the point that you might be able to fit in someone's triathlon training needs more easily than someone's obligations towards an aging parent (or possibly even the other way round) but I don't think an employer should be making a value judgment on why you need/want flexible working.

They can either accommodate your request or they can't, and if you have a meeting to discuss you may well come up with a compromise based on why you need the flex.

I'd ask HR why they need to know.

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