Flexible working request go mainstream, but are you ready to face the wave of requests

2014-06-30 Jennifer Renney-Butland posted:

The right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees from today (30th June 2014). This will be a massive shake-up to the existing flexible working legislation. From today (30th June 2014), anyone can request flexible working, compared to the current framework which restricts flexible working requests to parents and carers.

Employees will from today (30th June 2014), who have worked continuously for 26 weeks and have not made a flexible working request in the previous 12 months will be able to make a request for flexible working. It is difficult to predict how many flexible working requests you might receive as a result of the change in the legislation, but much depends on an employer’s workplace and type of staff employed.

As an employer, you could be concerned that you might be inundated with applications, particularly from employees with no children. What should you do if you receive similar applications in a short space of time? One positive for employers is that the current onerous statutory procedure will be abolished. Acas’ non-statutory guidance says that you should deal with applications in the order in which they have been received.

But is it possible for employers to reject flexible working requests, or introduce a no flexible working request policy to all staff? The short answer is no. Flexible working requests are a statutory right and therefore one you cannot deny to any employee. Rejecting this right to an employee could give rise to a discrimination claim. However, employers are under no obligation to agree to a request provided that you have given the request(s) careful consideration and the decision is justified on one of the accepted business grounds.

It is advisable to seek legal advice to ensure that when you receive a flexible working request, that you do respond to the request in a reasonable manner.

If you would like know about your rights as an employer or employee about flexible working requests, contact Jennifer Renney today on 01225 632240 or at info@renneyandco.com

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