Flexible working changes

Flexible working changes – what you actually need to know


By:    Amy Stokes
Associate Solicitor, Employment & HR, Blackburn
Email Amy Stokes
01254 222309

of:    Forbes Solicitors

On 30 June 2014 the Government introduced new rules in respect of flexible working.  There have been a number of high profile headlines and even some scaremongering, but what actually does it mean for employers?

Previously, a request for flexible working could only be made by parents of children under 17 (or 18 if the child was disabled) and certain carers.  Now any employee who has been employed for 26 weeks has the right to make a request.  An employee can however only make one request in a 12 month period.

Under the old rules, the process for dealing with a flexible working request was very prescriptive and quite onerous on employers.  Now the process is simplified requiring employers only to consider requests in a reasonable manner and to notify employees of their decision within 3 months of receipt of the request (including any appeal), unless an extension of time is agreed.

You don’t have to agree to a request for flexible working – if the employer decides to refuse a request for flexible working they will still have to show that the refusal is on business grounds and for one of the following reasons:

  • 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 changes to the business

Employers are understandably concerned that the new rules will lead to a significant increase in requests for flexible working.  Whilst this may be the case initially, employers should also recognise the potential benefits of having a flexible workforce.  In this way and in a number of circumstances granting these types of requests can actually lead to increased productivity.

For further information please contact Amy Stokes, Employment Solicitor at Forbes on 01254 222309.

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