Flexible Working – changes in force on 30 June 2014
Flexible Working – The key change this month is the introduction of the Flexible Working Regulations 2014 which will came into force on 30 June 2014.
They are supported by an ACAS Code of Practice and a Guide to Handling Requests To Work Flexibly. The Code of Practice provides an essential checklist and the Guide provides broader information and includes some useful examples.
In summary the new legislation means that:
All employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service will have the right to request flexible working (not just those with childcare or other caring responsibilities as now).
Employers are under a duty to deal with requests in a reasonable manner within a three-month decision period but the current prescribed statutory process and rigid timescales will no longer apply.
It will still be the case that, if an employer rejects the request, it must be for one of the following business reasons and the employee has a right to appeal;
the burden of additional costs,
an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
an inability to recruit additional staff
a detrimental impact on quality
a detrimental impact on performance
detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
a planned structural change to the business
Breach of the statutory scheme will expose an employer to a claim for up to eight weeks’ pay. However you need to be aware that most claims in respect of flexible working are brought under the discrimination legislation. Employers need to ensure that their practices around which requests they accept and which they reject do not fall foul of the Equality Act 2010.