Case in Focus

Miss J Singh v Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust – 2016

What happened?

The Claimant had been working the nightshift for a number years when family responsibilities meant that she needed to change her work pattern in order to work during the day. She put in a flexible working request which was refused. The Claimant’s argument was that it was unjust to have her request for flexible working refused, because the night shifts could be accommodated by other workers through covering the night shifts she had previously worked. Miss Singh claimed that the Respondent failed to follow the correct procedure and that the reason for refusal of her application for flexible working was factually incorrect.

The Hearings

The appeal was dismissed on the basis that an employer is not bound in law to accept a request for flexible working. What the employer must do, among other things, is base any refusal of such a request on correct facts. In this case, the EAT had to consider the adequacy of the Tribunal’s reasoning. The EAT concluded that the Tribunal had done just enough to acquaint the Claimant with why she had lost the argument and why she had failed to show an incorrect factual basis for the decision to refuse her request.

Take away points:

  • Having a flexible working policy will remove ambiguity of employees and show the correct way to submit a request, including the accurate time scales and potential outcomes. This should be included as part of your employee handbook, which should be accessible to all members of staff.
  • Due to the pandemic, businesses are experiencing a surge in flexible working requests, therefore communication is key, and employers should seek to accommodate requests where possible and in the best interests of the business.