Paul Reeves, an employment partner at Stephenson Harwood, has commented on the highly anticipated extension of the right to request flexible working, which will now not come into force on 6 April 2014 as planned.
He said: ‘The extension of the right to request flexible working has been postponed following the slow progress of the Children and Families Bill through parliament. The proposed extension, which will take affect after the bill receives Royal Assent, will allow all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service to request flexible working.
‘Currently, only employees who have children aged 17 or younger [or 18 or younger where the child is disabled] and those employees who act as carers have the right to request flexible working. Once the new proposals come through, which should be later in the year, this right will extend to all employees who meet the qualifying period of service regardless of their personal circumstances.’
Reeves added that, in addition to extending the right to request flexible working, the government has proposed to replace the statutory procedure followed by employers when considering such requests with a more informal process. ACAS has already published a final draft of its code of practice and guidance on handling requests.
‘As a reminder, employees have a right to request flexible working and not a right to flexible working,’ he said.