How do we handle a request for term time only working following the pandemic?

How do we handle a request for term time only working following the pandemic?

October 27, 2021

These days it feels as if you can’t move for a conversation on the merits of flexible working policies and the ability to work from home. Many employees appear to have re-evaluated how they live their lives and in many cases chosen to take roles that give them a greater work life balance.

Key to work life balance for the Early Years’ professional has often been the term time only position.

So what happens if you receive a request from someone who works all year round to work term time only?

Whenever we get a request like this we need to remember its a flexible working request and there are regulations to govern how we respond.

See what happens if you don’t here.

Estate agent fined £180k for refusing to let staff member leave work early


It is important to follow the Flexible Working Request procedure even if you are going to say yes.

Here at Redwing we place the Flexible Working Policy in the Employee Handbook and give you the template letters you need to ensure you follow the procedure correctly.

In a case like this, if you cannot accommodate the request, it is essential that you look at the reasons why you feel this cannot be agreed alongside with the statutory reasons to refuse.

There are 8 business reasons to be able to refuse and the ones that are likely (but not exclusively) to apply in a request for term time working:

  • The burden of additional costs. You can refuse a flexible working request if it will be a financial burden on your business. i.e., the need to recruit additional staff to cover the school holiday.
  • A detrimental impact on quality. This one is straightforward. If it’s going to have a significant impact on quality if they are not around 13 weeks a year, for example working with key children.
  • A detrimental impact on performance. This one is straightforward. If it’s going to have a significant impact on an employee’s ability to carry out their role, for example working with key children.
  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand. This could typically be a TTO only request where out of school club services create additional demand during the school holidays.

The key points to remember when handling a flexible working request is that if you do not follow the policy, there is a risk that as the person who is making the request could be returning from maternity leave, so an allegation may be made that you have directly discriminated on the grounds of maternity. Sex discrimination is also often alleged.  In the case above, the issue wasn’t refusing the request, it was the way the whole process was handled.

If you need any assistance handling a request for flexible working please contact us on 01527 909436.

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