Right to request flexible working extended from 30 June 2014

26 July 2014
Right to request flexible working extended from 30 June 2014

From 30 June 2014, the right to request flexible working is extended to all employees, with 26 weeks or more service. 

Previously, the right was limited to either parents of children under 17, parents of disabled children under 18 and in some instances, carers. The statutory process used required businesses to respond within fixed timescales for each stage.

Now employers are under a simpler obligation to handle requests reasonably and promptly (ie. within three months) and they may determine their own procedure for handling such requests. However this process must be in line with Acas guidance.

It still remains that employees are only entitled to make one flexible working request in any 12-month period. Further, there are still eight business grounds upon which a flexible working request may be refused.

These are:

  • The burden of additional costs being unacceptable to the organisation
  • Inability to reorganise work among existing staff
  • Inability to recruit additional staff
  • The employer considers the change will have a detrimental impact on quality, the organisation's ability to meet customer demand, or performance
  • There is insufficient work available when the employee proposes to work
  • There are planned restructures and the individual's request may not fit with those plans

Acas has issued a draft code of practice and guidance to assist employers. This includes what to include in a flexible working policy, examples of the eight business grounds, and how to handle requests fairly.

Employees may bring an employment tribunal claim in relation to a flexible working request where an employer has failed to:

  • Deal with a flexible working request reasonably
  • Notify the individual of the outcome within the prescribed period
  • Rely on one of the statutory grounds when refusing the request; orBased the decision on incorrect facts

In light of the changes, employers may need to review their flexible working policies.

For further information on flexible working, please see the flexible working section of HRBird.

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