What are the changes to Flexible Working due 6 April 2014?
The new Children and Families Bill, is expected to come into force on 6 April 2014.
In this, the right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees with 26 weeks' service, rather than being limited to parents of children aged under seventeen or if disabled, under eighteen or to “carers”. Also, employers are still going to be able to refuse a request on business grounds but you will not be tied to the existing 8 reasons.
The need to follow the statutory procedure contained in the Flexible Working (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2002. is to be removed, instead employers will be allowed to use their current HR procedures but they must consider requests in a ‘reasonable manner’.
Smaller employers will have an advantage here because, unlike larger businesses, they’ll be able to argue that their limited workforce and resources make it impossible to grant flexible working to their employees.
Also, as has always been the case, the statutory right will only be to request flexible working - an employee won’t be able to demand it or insist on an alteration to their existing contractual hours.
The employer will need to notify the employee of its decision within three months, unless an extension is agreed. The request can be treated as withdrawn if the employee, without good reason, fails to attend either two consecutive meetings to discuss the request or an appeal.
The employee may bring a tribunal claim if the employer wrongly treats the request as withdrawn or if the employer's decision is not made in time. The claim must be brought within three months of the date on which the application is treated as withdrawn or the final decision is communicated.
Please note that this information is provided for general knowledge only and therefore specific advice should be sought for individual cases