Flexible working-Request to work from home-challenging employer


When the pandemic lifted in 2021, we were all advise that 2-3 days office attendance was required, however this was a email sent from the CEO, with no policy in place.

Managers used their discretion, and in my team, we were allowed to WFH from October 2021-May 2023 with adhoc meetups in the office if required.

From January 2023, my employer launched a Hybrid policy, whereby we were now required to attend the office 2 days a week.

The flexible working application prior to January 2023 allowed my manager to directly approve formal Work from home contractual changes. From January 2023 this was changed whereby this now needs director approval alongside HR approval.

The flexible policy has also been changed to stipulate only exceptional request under the “Equality act 2010” will be considered if direct or in association.

Since October 2021, I made the decision to undertake caring for my elderly parent who is 82, whereby me being in the home during the day allowed supervision and oversight of him. This allowed the safety of him. He does not have a disability, but is forgetful as to leaving doors open, cooking stoves on, taps running, and tries to undertake tasks which causes safety concerns. Although English is not his first language he does find it hard to take things in and communicate to others on occasions.

I had some discussion with my manager, and was led to believe an informal arrangement could be met, on perhaps me attending the office 2 days every other week. This allowed from me to find cover during this period for someone to be present in the home.

I have now been advise the informal arrangement can not be met, and 2 days office attendance is required.

I feel I want to make clear for future arrangement, and so think its best for me to apply for a formal 2 days a week, incase they change this again to 3 or 4 days office attendance.

My manager advise me to leave it and cross the bridge when the time comes, however I feel that my employer keeps on further enhancing the policy that allows my manager very little wiggle room and no approval authority.

Our Hybrid policy has been changed/enhanced 4 times in 2023, since being launched to further stipulate that eldercare is not accepted unless “Equality Act 2010” and the managers guide has further been adopted to include the reason for rejection can fit into the following reason:

• “there are planned changes to the business, for example, your employer plans to reorganise or change the business and thinks the request will not fit with these plans”

This feels to me that my manager is not able to help me, and my company will not support my application.

I’m getting anxious as to what will be expected of me in the future, as I have already arrange cover for 2 days after a very difficult situation.

Does anyone have any advice on way forward, or do you think I should carry on with my managers flexibility for now. I just feel exhausted at the moment mentally trying to think of all the avenues I could take and what my options could be. I enjoy my job and I am able to do this successfully remotely as proven over 4 years, (or 18 months post pandemic), and feel I would not be productive in the office as my mind will be playing as to how my father, and if an accident was to happen, never forgive myself

Hi danjoe, welcome to the forum, there are a few things that you can do. You can request a visit from a doctor or someone to do a assessment of mental capacity to help you get someone to come in like a carer or PA etc.
You can email the carers or citizen advice on the work matter or with your union representative as they can best advise you on the matter.
Good luck.

Hi @danjoe it seems to me that your employer is unaware of the full scope of the Equality Act 2010.

I strongly advise you to contact the Carers UK Helpline about this as they will be able to give you accurate information, but my understanding is that carers are protected from discrimination by association with a person covered by the Act. Someone needing care due to disability or age would qualify under those terms. But please contact the helpline - they can advise you better. Send an email - perhaps copy and paste your original post as a starting point - to advice@carersuk.org


@danjoe In addition to @Charlesh47 advice may I suggest a couple of things - not to action but information it may be handy to have when you discuss with carersUK helpline

  • you mention discussions with only your manager, did you have any with the human resources (HR) department?
  • in your company do you have an Intranet, internal online system that states all the HR policies, - can you find them and print them, anything related to these hybrid policies and employment policies
  • is there a compliance department in your company? Is it separate or part of the HR department
  • Can you note down the names of the Heads of departments for HR and for Compliance?

My thinking -potential non-compliant Employee regulations

  • discrimination on its own
  • discrimination or unfair expectations due to rapidly shifting policies, with unclear communications

FYI Making caring the 10th protected characteristic | Carers UK
but The helpline of experts are better equipped to help at Carers UK

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thankyou all for the advise, I have emailed advice@carersuk.org

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I would also talk to ACAS about “Constructive Dismissal”.
Are you a member of a union?

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Hi Danjoe,

I’m sorry that you are going through such an uncertain time. I think employers don’t always understand that a little flexibility goes a long way with their workforce.

I won’t repeat the excellent advice already given by others, but there are a couple of things that you might find useful:

Firstly, regarding the Equality Act 2010 - you may not have one of the protected characteristics listed in the Act, but you are still protected from discrimination by the Act if you are associated with someone who does. Age is a protected characteristic, so as a carer for your 82 year old Father (regardless of any underlying concerns you have regarding his mental capacity) you are protected from discrimination by the Equality Act. So any formal request for a personal working pattern should mention this association and should be assessed accordingly. If you are a member of a Union, your local rep can support you in any discussions with your employer on this issue.

Secondly, you could ask your HR department if they operate a ‘Carers Passport’ scheme. On the passport you explain what your caring role is and how it affects your work and what ‘flexibilities’ would be helpful. Once signed off by your manager it stays with you even if you change managers/teams. It’s also a living document, so if your needs change so does the document. Ultimately these schemes are about helping carers to successfully balance caring responsibilities and work. If your employer doesn’t operate this scheme, suggest that they do!

It would be tempting to follow your manager’s suggestion of crossing the bridge when you come to it, but I feel that that might result in you being put on the back foot when company policies change, resulting in you having to agree to something that would compromise your Father’s care.

Good luck in moving forward with your employer.


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