The Children and Families Bill proposes to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees who have been employed for 26 weeks or more by their current employer. The duty on employers will be to consider all requests for flexible working in a reasonable manner and in order to assist employers in managing these requests; the Government has asked ACAS to produce a statutory code of practice. ACAS have now published a draft code for consultation. The consultation will end on 20 May 2013.
The code comprises basic principles and focuses on how employers should consider requests in a reasonable manner. The code does not provide good practice examples of managing requests in the workplace and this will be contained in a separate non-statutory guide which is to be published at the same time as the code.
The code sets out the key principles on handling requests in a reasonable manner and not only has it been devised to assist employers but will also be taken into account by employment tribunals where relevant.
These key principles are:
1) Talk to employees as soon as possible after receiving written requests
2) Advise employees of their rights to be accompanied by a work colleague at any discussion regarding their requests. This should be done in advance of discussions
3) Discuss requests with the employees to obtain a clearer view of the changes they are looking for
4) Carry out discussions in a private place where these will not be overheard
5) Approach requests with the presumption that they will be granted unless there is a business reason for not doing so
6) Consider requests carefully weighing up the benefits of the changes for the employees against the cost of implementing these changes. In doing so, employers should not discriminate against employees
7) Inform employees of the outcome in writing as soon as possible
8) If requests are accepted, with or without modifications, discussions should be held with the employees as to how and when the changes might best be implemented
9) If requests are rejected this has to be for one of the specific business reasons set out in the legislation and employees must be given an opportunity to appeal the decision
10) All requests, including appeals, must be considered and dealt with within a period of three months’ from receipt of the original request unless otherwise agreed with employees.
The draft code can be found here: