Declining a request

What to do when declining a request for flexible work arrangements.

In some cases you may not be able to approve the requested flexible working arrangement. However, it’s important that you give all requests your full consideration. You may want to explore alternatives to find an arrangement that works for you and your employee.

When declining a request, you must:

  • state the ground/s for your refusal, and
  • explain the reasons for these ground/s.

How to decline a request

There will always be circumstances where, due to the needs of the business, the employer feels they can’t accept a request. Employers can refuse a request:

  • on one or more of the following recognised business grounds
  • if it conflicts with a collective agreement.

Recognised business grounds or non-accommodation grounds

  • Cannot reorganise work among existing staff
  • Cannot recruit additional staff
  • Negative impact on quality
  • Negative impact on performance
  • Not enough work during the periods the employee proposes to work
  • Planned structural changes
  • Burden of additional costs
  • Negative effect on ability to meet customer demand.

Conflicts with a collective employment agreement

Employers must refuse a request if the proposed new working arrangement conflicts with the provisions of an employee’s collective employment agreement. This could come up in a number of sectors and industries.

However, there are also likely to be times where a compromise can be reached between the employer, the employee making the request, and other employees in the workplace. Employers, employees and unions are encouraged to discuss these issues with a view to developing procedures for dealing with such conflicts before they come up.

Notifying the employee

Employers are required to notify the employee of their decision in writing, and if the request is refused, to give reasons for the refusal.

A manager in a small firm that manufactures curtains gets a request from an employee to not work on Thursdays. The manager declines the request as the weekly fabric delivery is received on Thursday and preparations begin for the following day’s despatch of customer orders.

Dear Bill,

I am sorry that I cannot grant your request to change the days that you work, but to allow you to not work on a Thursday would have a negative effect on the performance of the business.

Thursday is our busiest day of the week, when all staff are required to ensure that the machinists can continue making curtains while stock is received, and finished curtains are packaged ready to be despatched the following morning. You are aware that on a Thursday morning we receive our weekly delivery of fabric. This requires the involvement of all staff to help move the material from the delivery bay into the storeroom, before the newly made curtains can be prepared for despatch the following morning.

As I indicated when we met to discuss your request, if you decide to change the day you would prefer not to work to one earlier in the week, then I would be happy to reconsider your request.


Yours Sincerely,

B.E.M Ployer

Download form

To make the process a bit easier, you can use

Form C: Flexible working arrangements decline request form [DOC 57KB].

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Page last revised: 01 April 2019

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