Flexible working rights extended to all employees
As of 30th June 2014, every employee with at least 26 weeks continuous service has the right to request flexible working hours.
This replaces the previous rule that an employee must have caring responsibilities for a dependant child or adult.
The provision that only one request can be made per 12 month period remains. The once inflexible statutory flexible working procedure has also been relaxed.
The rigid time scales have been replaced with a duty on employers to deal with requests in a ‘reasonable manner’. Recently published ACAS Guidance suggests that employers should deal with requests within 3 months.
As before, there is no right for employees to work flexibly. The right remains a ‘right to request’.
Eligible employees can request a change to working hours, working time or working location without needing to have caring responsibilities to make the request. This could include a wide range of working patterns, such as job sharing, working from home, part time working, compressed hours and flexitime.
What this means for you
On the face of it, this extended right could be daunting for employers. But it’s important to note that the fundamental aspects of the original right to request have not changed.
An employer can still refuse the right to work flexibly if they can justify the refusal based on the 8 business reasons. If anything, these amendments allow the employer greater flexibly when dealing with requests. The abolishing of the rigid time frames have removed an administrative burden from employers.
Also, it was a concern that, owing to a higher number of females requesting flexible working, refusing requests would expose the employer to a greater risk of indirect discrimination claims.
The extension of the flexible working rules to all employees has reduced this risk.
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