On 30 June 2014 the right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service.
Currentlythe right to request flexible working is only available to employees with children under the age of 17 and certain carers.
On the same date the Government will abolish the statutory procedure for dealing with flexible working requests and will introduce a new principles based procedure. The new procedure will largely leave employers to deal with requests in a way which suits them, provided that these are dealt with within a 3 month time frame. The only requirement is that requests are dealt with ‘reasonably’ in terms of both the manner and timeframe in which they are dealt with.
Acas has put together a draft statutory Code of Practice which can be found here http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1616. This Code of Practice aims to guide employers on what it means to handle a request in ‘a reasonable manner’. The guidance anticipates that employers will continue to deal with requests in pretty much the same way as they do now, albeit without the same rigid timescales for doing things.
It is likely that employers will receive more requests for flexible working and may find that they receive competing requests from members of staff. Each request should be considered on its own merit, taking into account the business case.
If you have not already done so we would advise that you look to review and amend your existing flexible working policy to reflect the forthcoming changes.
For more information or assistance in amending your existing policy, please contact Katie Maguire for more information.