From 6 April 2014, all employees with 26 weeks service will have the right to request flexible working for reasons that may not be connected with childcare. The current overly prescriptive “right to request” procedure will be replaced with a general duty on employers to deal with any such application “in a reasonable manner” and to notify the employee within three months.
The employer will not be obliged to offer an appeal. Acas are producing a Code of Practice on the Extended Right to Request Flexible Working to assist employers and supporting guidance.
So as not to be caught out on Monday 7 April 2014, employers should be considering now how to handle multiple requests e.g. will you agree how to prioritise requests with your employees, will you allocate on a first come first served basis?
Just to remind you as it is still in force for a few months yet: the current right to request flexible working currently extends to employees who have or expect to have responsibility for caring for a child of under 17, or a child with a disability who is under 18, or a vulnerable adult providing they meet certain conditions. Those conditions are that they are an employee, have 26 weeks’ continuous employment, are not an agency worker or member of the armed forces, and have not made another request within the previous 12 months. The right is just to request flexible working, not to be offered it.
The employer is duty bound to follow a formulaic “right to request” procedure involving meetings within certain specified time frames and to offer the employee the right to an appeal against a refusal of his or her request.
If you would like further information on this blog contact Laurence O’Neill on 01483 215 355 or email [email protected].