The term “Flexible Working” can cover many situations. It can describe a place of work, such as working from home, or a type of contract, such as a temporary contract, part-time working, flexi-time or shift-work. The latest change to flexible working legislation is due to take effect from 30 June 2014 and means that from this date all employees will have the right to request flexible working. Richard Porter, Director and Employment solicitor at Thompson Smith and Puxon (TSP) explains.
Although flexible working is already exercised throughout the workplace, the current right to request flexible working is only available to employees who care for either a child or an adult. The Government is now extending the right to request flexible working to all employees after they have achieved 26 weeks’ service, rather than being limited to those employees with children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled) and certain carers.
The key points when considering flexible working are
- Employees must have 26 weeks continuous employment at the date the application is made.
- Employers have a statutory duty to consider applications.
- Once agreed it becomes a permanent change to the employee’s contract of employment.
- An employee has the right to appeal, if necessary, against the outcome.
- The employee and employer can negotiate an agreement if the requested hours are not possible.
- Only one application can be made in a 12 month period.
(Source Acas: www.acas.org.uk )
It is important to note that employers have a statutory duty to consider all flexible working applications in a reasonable manner; however, employers will have the right to refuse requests on business grounds, if, for example, such a request would have a detrimental effect on the business’ performance or if the employer is unable to recruit the additional staff required to accommodate the employee’s proposal.