Changes to Flexible Working
From the 30th June 2014 all employees who have worked for their employers for 26 weeks continuously will be able to request flexible working. An employee will no longer need to have caring responsibilities to make a flexible working request, though we suspect that most of those who make requests will be carers of one kind or another.
Eligible employees can make one written request every 12 months, which the employer must deal with within 3 months. The employer can refuse the request on any of the 8 business grounds set out in the legislation. These are:
- the burden of additional costs
- an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
- an inability to recruit additional staff
- a detrimental impact on quality
- a 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 the business
As you can see there are lots of reasons to refuse, but employers should still treat flexible working requests with care. They must go through a reasonable process and should give the request genuine consideration. Failure to do so can result in a Tribunal award of 8 weeks’ pay for the employee (currently capped at £464 per week) or even in a costly discrimination claim.
ACAS have produced a useful draft code about the process which you can read here.
If you’ve got any questions about the legal or practical aspects of flexible working, or any other general legal queries, you can call us on 01275-378715.