Some recent discussions has brought the matter of flexible working requests to the forefront of my mind, in particular how employers can get this wrong when a request is made.
The key points around flexible working requests are:
- Employees must have 26 weeks continuous employment at the date the application is made.
- Employers have statutory duty to consider applications.
- Once agreed it becomes a permanent change to the contract of employment.
- An employee has the right to appeal if necessary against the outcome.
- An agreement should benegotiated if the requested hours are not possible.
- Only one application can be made in a 12 months period.
Flexible working takes a number of forms and can include variation to the working pattern (for example full time to part time following a period of maternity leave) or to allow for home working.
An employer should consider the request carefully looking at the benefits of the requested changes in working conditions for the employee and the business,weighing these against any adverse business impact of implementing the changes. It should be noted that employers are under no statutory obligation to grant a request to work flexibly.
Requests to work flexibly must be considered objectively and an employer can only refuse them if there are business reasons for doing so.
Employers must also make sure that they do not unlawfully discriminate an employee who makes such a request.
Employers and employees alike should also remember that parents of children aged 16 or under, or disabled children under the age of eighteen, have the right to make an application for flexible working to their employer if they have:
- worked for their employer for 26 weeks continuously at the date that the application is made.
- not made another application to work flexibly under the right during the past 12 months.
On the 30 June 2014 the Government is extending the right to request flexible working to all employees. This will mean that the right to request flexible working will be extended to cover all employees after 26 weeks' service, rather than only those with children under the age of 16 (or 18 if the child is disabled).
If you have any questions about an application which has been made by an employee or you need advice about making an application to your employer, please contact our employment team.
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