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In or Out: Is flexible working becoming litigious?

View profile for Chris Piggott
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As the call for return to office working increases in demand, a recent judgment has held that a senior employee could not expect to work from home full time. So, can an employer deny flexible working requests if the role requires some office attendance?

The judgment

Miss Wilson requested an amendment to her employment contract to enable her to work remotely full-time. Whilst location flexibility was granted during the Covid-19 pandemic, this policy was reviewed and adjusted and FCA employees, including the Claimant, were required to return to the office for 40% their working hours.

In 2023 Miss Wilson requested to work remotely for the entirety of her working hours the FCA considered that acceptance of the request would have a detrimental impact upon both quality of work and the management and training of the team. The tribunal agreed.

Whilst Miss Wilson could perform her role remotely full time, the tribunal held this was not consistent with the employer’s aims. These aims were considered reasonable. They could not be achieved in the same way if Miss Wilson was absent from the office full-time; successfully citing a regular absence from the office as being detrimental to the training of junior colleagues.

What does this mean for the employer?

Whilst a return to full time office working seems unlikely,  Miss Wilson’s case highlights the risk of litigation when dealing with flexible working requests. More than ever an employer needs to be clear on its aims and reasoning when deciding to accept or reject such requests.

Find out more about changes to flexible working

If your company wishes to keep ahead of the changes on flexible working we shall be running practical workshops on this, and other key employment topics, throughout 2024.

Details can be obtained by contacting:

Alena Dudrah (Employment Paralegal)-

Chris Piggott (Employment Partner)-