Currently, the right to request flexible working hours is restricted to carers, including parents of young children, disabled children and adults in need of care. This is the right for employees to request changes to their working hours, working times or location and if granted such changes, become permanent changes to their terms and conditions of employment.
Changes to this scheme are due to be implemented on 30th June 2014 will mean that employees can make a flexible working request for any reason, but employers will no longer be required to meet with the current, complex statutory procedure, when responding to flexible working requests.
The changes in June will result in the following:
1. Employees will have a statutory right to request flexible working for any reason. They must have 26 weeks’ continuous employment prior to the date of their request and must not have made a previous flexible working request within the last 12 months.
2. Employers will be required to respond to such requests in a “reasonable manner”
What is a “reasonable manner”? This is explained in detail in a new ACAS guide “Handling requests to work flexibly in a reasonable manner”. This can be found on the ACAS web site www.acas.org.uk
The new process for handling flexible working requests can be summarised as follows:
1. On receiving a flexible working request, a meeting should be arranged with the employee to discuss the request as soon as possible. Employees should be offered the right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative.
2. The employer can decide to approve a request without holding a meeting.
3. Requests can only be refused for one of eight specific business reasons, which are: Burden of additional costs: Inability to reorganise work: Inability to recruit additional staff; Detrimental impact on quality; 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 your business.
4. The employer must inform the employee of their decision in writing as soon as possible, with their reason for refusing the request and right to appeal (if the request is refused).
5. Total time for the whole process to be completed, including appeals is three months.
If you have a flexible working policy, then you will need to review it to ensure it complies with the new requirements.