Changes to flexible working requests
On 30 June 2014, the Flexible Working Regulations will be extended to cover all employees who have completed 26 weeks’ service. Applicants will no longer have to have responsibility for caring either for children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled) or adults over the age of 18. Those requests can, as at present, include changes to working hours, working time or working location.
It is important to note, as Steve Williams, ACAS’s head of equality services, says, ‘it’s only a right to ask, and it’s certainly not a right to have’. While employers will not be under an obligation to accept all requests, they will be obliged to consider all requests reasonably within a three-month time frame. This time frame, which can be extended with agreement, must include time for any appeal. The Act does not include a definition for ‘reasonably’ although ACAS has published the final draft Code of Practice and supplementary guidance on how employers should handle requests.
The Code suggests following a process that is similar to that used currently, albeit without the prescribed time frames: meeting with the employee as soon as possible to discuss the request, considering the request objectively, communicating the decision to the employee, and if rejecting, providing one of eight business reasons…
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