HomeEmployee ExperienceEngagementWhat HR leaders can learn from the FCA’s rejection of a flexible working request

What HR leaders can learn from the FCA's rejection of a flexible working request

  • 3 Min Read

Elizabeth Wilson, a senior manager at the Financial Conduct Authority, lost her claim after her request to work from home full time was rejected.

Featured Image

In the wake of the recent Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) case, where a senior manager’s request to work entirely from home was rejected, HR teams are left contemplating the implications for their own flexible working policies.

The verdict, while not setting a binding precedent, offers valuable insights into how companies should handle flexible working requests in the evolving landscape of hybrid work.

Elizabeth Wilson, a senior manager at the Financial Conduct Authority, lost her claim after her request to work from home full time was rejected.

During the tribunal, she claimed that because she had continued to be a high performer working remotely, she should be able to continue to do so even though the regulator had instituted a policy of asking employees to return to the office two days a week.

The FCA’s argument hinged on the fact that the employee’s full-time remote work would negatively impact her ability to effectively manage her team and reduce in-person collaboration.

The tribunal found that the FCA had legitimate reasons to require some office attendance and that the employee’s already high standard of work would be enhanced by doing so.

This case underscores the importance of individual assessment of flexible working requests.

New legislation poses questions

Under new legislation released by the UK’s government earlier this year, each request should be evaluated based on the individual’s role, responsibilities, and circumstances.

A blanket approach to responding to requests could potentially lead to unfair rejections.

When considering a request, employers should also explore alternative working arrangements. In the FCA case, the employer suggested an alternative arrangement where the employee came into the office some of the time, but less than the 40% requirement.

However, the details of these discussions were not documented, highlighting the need for employers to record all discussions related to flexible working requests.

Will women be more adversely affected?

The FCA case also brings to light the potential for discrimination claims.

In many flexible working cases, requests are made to facilitate childcare or to support an employee coping with matters associated with a disability. In such cases, a requirement to work full time from the office might lead to indirect discrimination claims.

Therefore, careful consideration of a request is crucial so that employers can robustly defend any refusal on the basis that it is justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Moreover, the case emphasizes the importance of timely communication. The FCA was found to have breached the statutory time limit for communicating the refusal of the request, resulting in a compensatory award to the employee.

When will a precedent be set?

In his judgment, employment judge Robert Richter indicated that future tribunals involving flexible and hybrid working requests would be considered on their own merits, adding that the case “raises a key issue in the modern workplace and which will, no doubt, be the subject of continued litigation”.

As the landscape of work continues to evolve, HR teams must navigate the complexities of flexible working requests with care.

The FCA case serves as a reminder that each request must be considered individually, with a focus on open communication, documentation, and a careful balance between the needs of the employee and the business.

Was this article helpful?

Subscribe to get your daily business insights

Related Articles

Employees feel disconnected at work due to corporate jargon

We've all been there - a colleague uses a strange bit of office jargon that makes you inwardly cringe. Whether it's suggesting a "paradigm shift" or...

  • HRD Connect
  • Feb 8, 2024

The importance of ensuring seamless employee transitions

Offboarding, often relegated to a mere afterthought in the HR playbook, is a goldmine of untapped potential.  This is not just about exit...

  • HRD Connect
  • Feb 8, 2024

Generational tensions linked to lower workplace productivity in the UK and US

Employees who are much younger than their managers report lower productivity than those closer in age due to a lack of collaboration between...

  • HRD Connect
  • Jan 29, 2024

Feeling like a fraud? How HR can help employees overcome imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a pervasive issue in the workplace, affecting half of all UK adults, according to recent research from The Executive...

  • HRD Connect
  • Jan 25, 2024

Amazon's latest faux par questions the ethics of employee surveillance

Amazon has come under scrutiny in France due to its surveillance practices involving its employees. On Jan 23, 2024, the French data privacy...

  • Rachael Kennedy
  • Jan 24, 2024

Age without limits: UK launches first anti-ageism campaign to combating workplace age discrimination

Age discrimination is an issue that continues to persist in our society, particularly in the workplace. Despite advancements in diversity and...

  • HRD Connect
  • Jan 22, 2024

UK's FCA investigation into sexism within financial services questions the efficacy of HR policies

Sexism within the financial services sector has been a long-standing issue, with recent reports highlighting the extent of the problem. The UK's...

  • HRD Connect
  • Jan 22, 2024

The impact of repealing the National Labor Relations Board Rule: What HR leaders need to know

The recent decision by the US House of Representatives to repeal a rule set by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has significant implications...

  • HRD Connect
  • Jan 18, 2024


HRD Roundtable: Combating 'Quiet Quitting'…

08 June 2023
  • E-Book
  • May 12, 2023

HRD Network Roundtable: The Retention…

15 June 2023
  • E-Book
  • May 12, 2023

Manage change and drive value…

01 June 2023
  • E-Book
  • May 12, 2023
Sign up to our Newsletter