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Flexible working changes

From 30 June 2014, the right to request flexible working is being extended to all employees. The right to flexible working currently applies to employees who have children under the age of 17 (18 if a child is disabled) or who are carers, will be extended to all employees with at least 26 weeks’ service. In addition, the statutory procedure for considering flexible working requests will be replaced by a requirement to “deal with the application in a reasonable manner”. An Acas statutory code of practice will set out the principles that employers should follow when managing such requests.

Please note updated flexible working policies are being uploaded into client accounts and will also be sent out in hard copy for you to insert into your employee handbooks.

Up until 30 June 2014, only employees with care responsibilities have had the right to request flexible working from their employer. From 30th June, all employees with at least 26 weeks’ service have the same right to make a request once in each 12 month period.

The strict procedural requirements about how an employer deals with a request are also being removed, but the employer has to be able to show it has dealt with any request “reasonably”, in accordance with new ACAS guidance, and has completed the process within three months.

Can employers refuse a request?

Yes but employers must make sure they have considered any request properly.There are eight grounds upon which an employer can refuse an employee’s request for flexible working. These are:

  • The burden of additional costs;
  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
  • Inability to re-organise work among existing employees;
  • Inability to recruit additional employees;
  • Detrimental impact on quality;
  • Detrimental impact on performance;
  • Insufficiency of work during the period that the employee proposes to work;
  • Planned structural changes.

Penalty for not considering a request properly:

Employment Tribunals can impose compensation of up to 8 weeks’ pay for failing to consider a request properly, and award unlimited compensation if unlawful discrimination is found to have taken place.

Dealing with flexible working requests from 30 June:

Follow the steps set out in your flexible working policy and consider each request carefully and give it proper consideration. Take advice from DCL and let us help you with any request that arrives. We will help you with the procedure and provide you with any letters that you need.