In June 2021, Global Banking & Finance Review published an
article by McGuireWoods London office managing partner
Dan Peyton and associate Adam Penman about the anticipated trend toward more flexible working arrangements
post-pandemic and relevant statutory considerations for employers.
Since 2014, they explained, employees with at least 26 weeks’ of continuous
employment have had the statutory right to request different working
arrangements, such as changing their work hours or shifting to a hybrid
schedule of part office and part remote work. Most legally defined grounds
for denying such requests relate to quantifiable impacts on a business, but
some are more subjective, such as negative impact on quality and
performance of work.
“The impact of COVID-19 on such requests and employer responses is and will
be on what qualifies as a ‘good business reason’ for denying a request,”
they noted. “If a business has operated well whilst employees have been
working from home, it may be very difficult to demonstrate that any
continued, or partial, work from home arrangement, would have an adverse
impact on such benchmarks.”
The article addressed other influencing factors, including impact of remote
working on a business’s culture, and the potential for discrimination
claims if a business rejects a request.
Peyton and Penman emphasized the likely impact of the market itself on such
decisions, “as employees may react with their feet and move to employers
which offer more competitive flexible arrangements.”