July 29, 2014

Flexible working requests shake up employment law

Flexible working hours have been opened up to more workers than ever – and being unprepared could hurt your business.

Many employers are not aware of this, or even considering how this will impact on their business. But it could fundamentally change the way some organisations are run.

Previously, an employee needed 26 weeks of continuous service and the responsibility of caring for children under 17 years of age, or disabled children under 18 years of age. All other employees were excluded from the statutory right to make a flexible working request.

Now, any employee with over 26 weeks of service is eligable to request flexible working hours.

In case of requests arising, you should have a written policy in place to deal with requests and to ensure you comply with employment law legislation.

Be Reasonable

This is a key word when considering flexible working requests.

What effect will this have on the workforce? Will any change have a resulting impact on your customers? Can you afford a permanent change or can you negotiate a temporary change with the employee. There are statutory reasons for turning down a request, so you should not feel under pressure to agree to a request that has been made.

12 Months

An employee is entitled to make a request once in any 12 month period. Once a request is made an employee does not have a statutory right to request another change for a period of 12 months.

It is however, important to exercise a degree of flexibility if you know there has been a change in circumstances. In these cases an employee might benefit from a change in contractual terms, even if it is only a temporary possibility.

3 Months

3 Months is the legal timescale that has been given for dealing with the process, from application to appeal outcome.

This timescale can be extended upon agreement with the employee.

Accompaniment

In employment law, there is no legal obligation to allow an employee to be accompanied, although it is good practice to do so. Consider situations where there may be a language barrier, or an employee who might benefit from support from a fellow colleague.

Outcome and Appeals

The outcome should be given in writing and, if the request has been turned down, detail why.

Any appeal procedure and timescale should also be detailed. There is no legal obligation on an employer to allow an appeal, however it would be best practice to allow an appeal and allow the employee to be accompanied at the appeal.

Multiple Requests

You may, on some occasions, receive several flexible working requests at the same time. Though rare, if you find yourself in this situation please give us a call to discuss further.

While the opportunity to request flexible working for all employees is new, the procedure itself is not. It is important to have a common sense approach in all situations while following the law. Moorepay experts in Employment Law arTo discuss any other questions, or a flexible working request you have received, please call our advice line on 0845 073 0240 where our advisers will assist you. Your indemnity may be at risk if you do not follow our advice.

For further reading, the ACAS Code of Practice and the ACAS Guide to Flexible Working are available at: www.acas.org.uk

Want a round-up of stories like this delivered to your inbox?

About the author

Content