Changes to Flexible Working Guidelines
By Adam Flight
- All employees will have a statutory right to request flexible working for any reason. The only eligibility criteria are that they must have 26 weeks of continuous employment at the date they make the request and must not have made another request within the last 12 months.
- The strict statutory procedure will be abolished and replaced with a requirement that employers consider flexible working requests in a “reasonable manner”. This means that although the right has been greatly extended, the Government has attempted to balance this with a more flexible employer-friendly process.
The use of the term “reasonable manner” is always deemed as a grey area when having to deal with certain situations. However, Acas has come to the aide of employers by producing a code of practice on Handling in a Reasonable Manner Requests to Work Flexibly and an accompanying guide.
- Upon receipt of a written request, you should arrange to meet with the employee to discuss it as soon as possible. Please note that there is no longer a statutory right to be accompanied to any of these meetings, including appeals, but best practice states that this should be offered.
- If you intend to approve the request without the need for a meeting with the employee then a meeting is not necessary.
- All requests should be considered in a non-discriminatory way and can only be rejected for one or more of eight specific business reasons (which remain unchanged from the previous legislation).
- You must inform employees of the decision in writing as soon as possible. If the request is accepted (even with modifications) then you should discuss when and how the changes will be implemented.
- If you reject the request you must provide reasoning in writing and allow the employee the right to appeal. Any appeal meeting should also give the staff member the right to be accompanied.
- The overall time period from receipt of the request to completion of the process (including any appeal) must be no longer than three months, unless an extension has been agreed by the employee.