30 April 2024
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The ACAS (Flexible Working) Arbitration Scheme: your questions answered

To The Point
(5 min read)

The ACAS (Flexible Working) Arbitration Scheme is a specialised arbitration scheme designed to assist employers and employees resolve disputes relating to the flexible working applications. While the Scheme undoubtedly has many benefits, employers should exercise caution when deciding which disputes to take to arbitration, as the Scheme may not be suitable in every case. 

Changes to the law relating to flexible working applications were introduced in April this year. The right to make a flexible working application now applies from day one of the employment relationship, and employees can make two such applications each year. Against a background of employers increasingly looking to encourage more workplace-based working and, arguably, less flexibility, employees are making greater use of these rights, particularly to retain the right to work remotely.  The ACAS (Flexible Working) Arbitration Scheme (the "Scheme") provides employers and employees with a viable alternative to litigation in the employment tribunal when an employee's application for flexible working is rejected by the employer. The Scheme provides a resolution process that is faster, cheaper, more informal, private, does not set precedents and is more flexible than tribunal proceedings. It also provides certainty, with the arbitrator having the power to impose resolutions on parties. It is not necessarily suitable in all cases, however, and care should be exercised when deciding whether to utilise the Scheme.

What is a "flexible working application"?
What is a "flexible working claim"?
What might be the outcome of a flexible working claim if successful?
When can the Scheme be employed to resolve flexible working disputes?
What happens at an arbitration hearing?
What does the outcome of an Acas arbitration scheme mean for the parties involved?
Other considerations (hybrid working policies)

Key takeaway

The ACAS Flexible Working Arbitration Scheme, although not widely recognised, offers a viable, quick and cost-effective alternative to dealing with claims in the employment tribunal. Unlike the employment tribunal, the hearing and the decision are confidential. While most employers will address these types of issues internally with their employees, the Scheme provides an attractive secondary option for both parties in straightforward cases.

Contributors to this article were David Hughes, Kelly Brown, Stephanie Ross and Rachel Park.

Next steps

If you have any questions about the Scheme or would like to discuss how it could benefit your organisation, please contact the key contacts on this page.

To the Point 

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