To answer your specific questions:
1. Did the company respond to my request within 14 or 15 days?
The law requires the employer to write to the employee within 14 days of the date of the meeting to either accept or reject their request. You have stated the meeting took place on 27 Oct and the response was received on 1 Nov - if these dates are correct then obviously the response was received well within the 14 day period required. If you supplied the incorrect dates then please let me know so I can amend my response.
2. If the ballot isn't set down in the Flexible Working Policy as part of set procedure is it valid or can the company claim it was gauging the effect on operational effectiveness.
Whilst the employer would be expected to follow the steps outlined in their policy, it does not mean they are strictly limited to these and if necessary they can apply other methods when arriving at their decision. So if a ballot was necessary to understand whether such a change would have been effective, then it is possible for the employer to apply it.
3. Should the company have expanded upon my reason for the request at most drivers haven't even heard of Flexible Working and (by hearsay) they thought I was just after some unfair working advantage?
Yes you can argue that, for example it may have been better for the employer to explain why such a request has been made, that the law allows it and how it would have affected the other employees if it had been granted. However, as you can understand it is not a legal requirement to have included such information, or even hold a ballot so this is more of a personal argument than a legally backed one.
4. Do I have strong grounds to appeal.
An employer can only reject a flexible working request on a limited number of grounds. These are:
- Planned structural changes
- The burden of additional costs
- A detrimental impact on quality
- The inability to recruit additional staff
- A detrimental impact on performance
- The inability to reorganise work among existing staff
- A detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
- Lack of work during the periods the employee proposes to work
In addition, the employer has a duty to explain their rejection in writing. They must state why the specific business ground applies in the circumstances and include the key facts about their decision. These should be accurate and relevant to reason used.
However, when selecting the ground for refusal the test is a subjective one on the part of the employer. If the employer considers that one of the grounds applies, then the test is satisfied. The test does not on the face of it import any question of reasonableness into this judgment. It would appear that only if the employer's view is based on incorrect facts, could the decision actually be questioned.
Therefore, if the employer has not relied on one of the set grounds to justify their refusal, or the facts they have used are incorrect or unreasonable, the decision can be appealed first before a formal grievance is raised. If that does not help, a claim can be made to an employment tribunal, if any of the following grounds apply:
If the employer has not relied on one of the set grounds to justify their refusal, or the facts they have used are incorrect or unreasonable, the decision can be appealed first before a formal grievance is raised. If that does not help, a claim can be made to an employment tribunal, if any of the following grounds apply:
- The employer failed to hold a meeting, notify their decision or offer a right of appeal
- The reason for refusal was not for one of the set reasons above
- The rejection was based on incorrect facts
The claim should be presented to the tribunal within 3 months of either the procedural breach or of the date on which the employee is notified of the appeal decision.
5. Should I refuse to cover any other position in the rota for which I am not scheduled.
I would not advise it, especially if your contract expects you to do so because then it could amount to insubordination and be a disciplinary matter. Do not try to take the law into your own hands.