The existing flexible working regime covers employees with caring responsibilities for either children or dependent adults and requires employers to follow a prescribed process within time limits specified by regulation. Following the government’s Consultation on Modern Workplaces the right to request flexible working has been extended and simplified. Key points are:
- All employees with 26 weeks’ service can request flexible working.
- The employee initiate a request by putting it in writing.
- The employer must give reasonably consideration to the request and must reach a determination within 3 months of the date of the request.
- Although the process for considering requests is no longer prescribed, the employer can still only refuse a request on the grounds of one of 8 reasons set out in the regulations.
- Employees may still only make one request for flexible working in any 12 month period.
- When dealing with claims of breach made by employee s employment tribunals will be required to take account of the ACAS Statutory Code of Practice “Handling requests to work flexibly in a reasonable manner” (currently still in draft, see link below).
Although the removal of the prescribed process for dealing with flexible working requests is welcome, many employers will wish to continue to set expectations by including an outline of the process it would normally expect to follow in deciding whether or not to grant a request.
In addition to the draft Statutory Code of Practice ACAS has produced a more detailed guide with some helpful examples of what the employer’s obligation to handle requests reasonably will entail (see below).