Flexible Working: Right to Request Extended to All

3 mins

Posted on 30 Jun 2014

All employees with 26 weeks' service have the right to request flexible working from today, 30 June 2014.

Employers will have to consider requests in a “reasonable manner” and notify employees of their final decision within three months. Acas has produced a code of practice to help employers handle requests reasonably which employers should follow as it will be taken into account by employment tribunals considering complaints. 

The key points are to:

  • discuss the request with the employee as soon as possible and in private;
  • allow the employee to be accompanied at the discussion and any appeal by a work colleague and inform the employee of the right to be accompanied in advance; 
  • consider the request carefully, looking at the benefits of change for both the employee and the business and weighing these against any adverse impact on the business;
  • avoid discriminating against the employee;
  • notify the employee in writing of the decision as soon as possible once it has been made, and in any event within three months of the request;
  • only reject a request for one of the business reasons set out in the legislation; and
  • allow the employee to appeal if the request is refused. 

Acas has also published separate non-statutory guidance on handling flexible requests. 

The grounds for refusing a request include cost, detrimental impact on quality or performance, detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand, inability to reorganise work amongst existing work or recruit additional staff, insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work and planned structural change to the business.

Employees who make flexible working requests are protected against detrimental treatment at the hands of their employer.  In addition, employees will be able to bring an employment tribunal claim if:

  • the employer fails to deal with their application in a reasonable manner;
  • the employer fails to notify them of their decision within 3 months; 
  • the employer rejects the application for a reason other than one of the grounds set out in the legislation; or
  • the decision to reject the application is based on incorrect facts.

If the tribunal upholds the claim, it can order the employer to reconsider the request and order the employer to pay compensation of up to eight weeks' pay, capped at £464 per week.

Employers need to update flexible working policies to reflect the extended right.  Please contact your usual Doyle Clayton adviser or email info@doyleclayton.co.uk if you would like help with this.

The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.

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