H there so as discussed once an employer receives a formal request, they must deal with it in a reasonable manner, ideally meeting with the employee to discuss it and, if rejected, communicate their decision within 3 months of the date the initial request was submitted. If the employer is going to have to reject a request, they are only able to do so by relying on any of the following grounds:
- 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
Ideally, the employer should also try and explain their decision in writing, such as providing information on why they believe the selected reason for rejection is relevant and they have relied on it.
It is important to note that when selecting the ground for refusal the legal test is mainly a subjective one on the part of the employer. If the employer considers that one of the grounds applies, then the test is satisfied. There is no requirement for reasonableness when the employer makes their decision. It would appear that only if the employer's view is based on incorrect facts, could the decision actually be challenged as incorrect.
Often, the option to appeal will be provided by the employer following their decision. If the appeal is unsuccessful, a formal grievance can be raised to start with, before formal legal action in the Employment Tribunal is considered as the final option.
A claim can only be made on one or more of the following grounds:
- The employer failed to hold a meeting, notify their decision within 3 months 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