The Flexible Work Act (Wet flexibel werken (Wfw)), which concerns employers with a workforce of more than ten, became effective on 1 January 2016. The Wfw gives employees the right to ask their employer for amendment of their working hours, working times and/or workplace. But please note: the Act does not give a right to flexible work, for it does not oblige the employer to always comply with employees’ requests.
To be eligible to submit a request for amendment, employees must have been employed by the company for at least six months on the proposed effective date of the amendment. In addition, the request regarding such an amendment must be submitted to the employer in writing at least two months before the proposed effective date of the adjustment.
The employer is entitled to deny the employee’s request, depending on the request itself:
- If an employee submits a request regarding amendment of working hours or working times the employer will be obliged to grant such a request, unless compelling business or departmental interests dictate otherwise. According to the Wfw this is the case if, for example, the request leads to major problems in terms of safety or work schedules, of a financial nature, or in terms of operational management.
- If an employee submits a request regarding change of workplace, the criterion involving compelling business or departmental interests does not apply. The employer must consider the request, and must consult with the employee in the event the request is denied.
Theoretically, therefore, it is simpler for an employer to deny a request regarding change of workplace than a request regarding adjustment of working hours or working times. Actual practice will reveal how the Act will work exactly.
Please note: the employer must respond in writing to the employee’s request at least one month before the proposed effective date of the adjustment. Denial of a request must be motivated. It is essential that the employer communicates their decision (in writing). Should the employer fail to make a timely decision this will entail an automatic amendment in line with the request submitted by the employee.