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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50191
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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Following my application to my employer to reduce to a 4 day

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Following my application to my employer to reduce to a 4 day working week I have a letter from them confirming 'agreement in principal' this should come into effect at 1st October, my employer has now rejected this original decision citing that it was only only agreed in principal, could you please advise the legal definition of 'agreement in principal' in this matter so that include in my appeal.
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Have they said why the original decision was rejected?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes, 'it would not be in the interest of the company to allow this flexible working working at the detriment of workload, capacity & client relationships'. this was not mentioned at the time of initial discussions or potential issues within the agreement in principal letter

Thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and will get back to you as soon as possible. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you
Many thanks for your patience. An agreement in principle is not a binding agreement. It means that your application has been provisionally accepted based on a preliminary assessment. However, the employer can conduct a more detailed assessment afterwards and still come to a different conclusion, including rejecting your application.
Just to give you an example, a similar scenario applies in the provision of mortgages. When someone applies to a lender for a mortgage they would consider their application based on preliminary criteria and give them an agreement in principle that they can get a mortgage. This is not a binding offer and no guarantee that a mortgage will be given but an indication that it is likely it would happen. However, the lender will still conduct a more detailed assessment and the initial offer in principle could still be rescinded. So there would never have been a legal or binding agreement in place just because an agreement in principle was given.
When it comes to your general legal rights in this situation, an employer can only reject your application 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 the 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 create any requirement of reasonableness into the employer's judgment. It would appear that only if the employer's view is based on incorrect facts, could the decision actually be challenged.
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. The available grounds to challenge their decision are:
• 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 allowed reasons
• 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.
I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
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