From 30 June 2014 the Flexible Working Regulations will be amended, so that all employees will be able to ask for flexible working once they have worked for an employer for a minimum of 26 weeks, removing the requirement that the employee must have caring responsibilities.

Under the current legislation, only the following employees have had the right to request for flexible working once they have worked for their employer for 26 weeks continuously:

  • Parents of children aged 16 or under;
  • Parents of disabled children under the age of 18; or
  • Adult carers.

Also, these carers mustn’t have made another application to work flexibly 12 months before they made a request to their employer. This is still the case with the new legislation.

Now that all employees can apply, employers may receive, for example, requests from employees who want to work a shorter day, work from home, or job-share.

Statutory procedure

The government is also removing the statutory procedure for considering flexible working applications.

Under the current statutory procedure employers must deal with the request within a time limit of 28 days, but with the new legislation being introduced employers will have to consider an employee’s request “in a reasonable manner” and within a “reasonable” period of time. However, the request must be dealt with within three months from receipt of the written request.

A statutory code of practice will be published to guide employers guidance on how to handle requests and what ‘reasonable’ means.

To help employers understand the introductory legislation, ACAS has published a guide on how to handle flexible working requests in a reasonable manner.

However, employers will have the flexibility to refuse requests on business grounds. This includes additional cost, inability to reallocate work to existing staff and not enough work during the hours to be worked under the request.

Other information

Published on: June 19, 2014