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Changes to flexible working requests coming in June 2014
Changes to various flexible working arrangements are due to come into force in June this year. The rules, which govern flexible working requests will see the following changes: The right to request flexible working is to be extended to all …
Changes to various flexible working arrangements are due to come into force in June this year.
The rules, which govern flexible working requests will see the following changes:
- The right to request flexible working is to be extended to all employees with 26 weeks’ service
- The statutory procedure which employers are currently obliged to follow when responding to a request is to be replaced with an obligation to consider requests in a ‘reasonable manner’
Currently, employers are obliged to consider requests for flexible working from employees who are caring for children aged 17 or under (or 18 if they are in receipt of disability allowance) or from those who are caring for adults in special circumstances.
From 30 June 2014, the rules will change and any employee with more than 26 weeks’ service will be eligible to submit a flexible working request, regardless of whether they have any caring responsibilities.
Under the new flexible working rules, employers must deal with requests from employees as long as they have followed the correct statutory procedure when making their request.
From June, employers must consider all requests in a ‘reasonable manner’ and notify the employee of their decision within three months of the request (unless an extension has been agreed). A ‘reasonable manner’ could mean that the employer holds a meeting with the employee to discuss the request before carefully considering it. If the employer decides to reject the request, they must provide clear business reasons for their decision.
Requests can be rejects for a number of statutory reasons, some of which may include:
- Additional costs to an employer
- Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand or on performance
- Inability to recruit additional staff
- Detrimental impact on quality
- Structural changes planned
If an employer feels that they have good reason to reject the request, due to any of the reasons, or others, suggested above, then the rejection would be upheld. However, rejection which is not based on fact can be challenged by the employee. These “permitted reasons” have not changed from the permitted reasons for refusal under the Flexible Working Regulations process required to be followed until the new regime comes into force.
Employers must ensure they deal with any requests in a ‘reasonable manner’ and be seen to do so if they wish to avoid a claim, complaint of discrimination or indirect discrimination, by an employee. ACAS has produced a useful Code of Practice on the right to request flexible working which gives guidance to employers on points to consider when a request is made under the new legislation.
At Royds, our specialists can advise employers on new employment law legislation including the changes to flexible working rules.