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Posted 21 August 2014
by Martin Laver

Flexible working – the new rules

From 30 June 2014 the law surrounding flexible working changed both in respect of eligibility and the way in which employers need to handle such requests.

Much of the eligibility requirements remain the same, these being;

  • only employees can apply;
  • the employee must have at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment at the date of the request;
  • only one request can be made in any 12 month period; and
  • agency workers cannot make a request, unless they are returning from a period of parental leave.

However, employees no longer need to have any caring responsibilities to make a request. Instead, everyone has the right to make a request, so long as they meet the four requirements above. This means that employers may face requests in connection with the Equality Act 2010 so that employees can have certain days off for religious requirements, or disabled employees may want to change their work pattern to enable them to return to work.

The employer has an obligation to deal with requests “reasonably”. In order to do so the employer must deal with requests promptly and take into account the benefits of allowing the request against the needs of the business.

A meeting should be held with the employee, who will have the right to be accompanied, to discuss the request and how it would work in practice. The parties can agree on a trial period, however this is not a legislative requirement.

The employer must inform the employee of the decision as soon as possible, if the decision is unfavourable to the employee then the employer must allow the employee to appeal any decision. The final decision of any appeal should be given within three months from the date of first receipt.

This area of law can become complicated if the Equality Act 2010 is engaged and you receive multiple requests at once. Our employment team can arrange to draft or review existing flexible working policies or answer any of your questions relating to the post 30 June 2014 flexible working process.

ACAS has published a helpful guide which can be accessed here.

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About the author

Martin Laver

Partner

Partner in the commercial litigation team specialising in disputed trusts and Wills