The United Kingdom Right to Request as a Model for Flexible Work in the European Union

38 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2016 Last revised: 30 Apr 2018

See all articles by Robert C. Bird

Robert C. Bird

University of Connecticut - School of Business

Elizabeth Brown

Bentley University

Date Written: August 31, 2017


Flextime, the seemingly innocuous practice of giving employees some control over their working time, can transform the modern workplace. Once the province of scattered national legislation, the European Union is now considering the inclusion of flextime rights in the Working Time Directive (WTD), the leading EU legislation related to work time and currently undergoing a major review. Given the tenuous state of the European Union and the recent United Kingdom vote in favor of Brexit, a harmonious adoption of flextime rights cannot happen at the expense of eroding relations between EU member states. In this paper, we propose adoption of a specific form of flextime rights, known as the right to request, as the reform most likely to encourage meaningful flextime practices without unduly destabilizing the WTD or relations amongst member states. Adoption of the right to request in the WTD would minimally impact employers, offer significant benefits to employees, and promote EU goals of protecting worker health and safety. With this adoption, the WTD can strengthen its goals, do its part to keep the fabric of the EU intact, and perhaps even encourage states flirting with exit to remain tied to one of the world’s most important supranational political unions.

Keywords: Working Time Directive, flextime, employment law, working time, European Union

Suggested Citation

Bird, Robert C. and Brown, Elizabeth A., The United Kingdom Right to Request as a Model for Flexible Work in the European Union (August 31, 2017). American Business Law Journal, Vol. 55, No. 1, 2018, Available at SSRN: or

Robert C. Bird (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut - School of Business ( email )

368 Fairfield Road
Storrs, CT 06269-2041
United States


Elizabeth A. Brown

Bentley University ( email )

175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02145
United States

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