The Right to Request Flexible Working
13th July, 2014
Chamber News - The Right to Request Flexible Working
There has been a great deal of talk in the news over the last few days about the extension of the right to request flexible working and the impact this will have on Businesses and Employers.
We have therefore asked one of our professional group members, Chris Strutt of Chris Strutt Solicitors, to supply us with information regarding this area which we hope you find of interest.
The first key point to make is one that has often been lost in the news reports. It is important to remember the extension of the right to request flexible working is merely that – a right to ask. It is a right for employees (with 26 weeks employment) to make a request for flexible working. It is not an automatic right for an employee to choose their working arrangements. As with the previous flexible working statutory scheme, there are a number of prescribed reasons where an employer can refuse a request from an employee for flexible working. These statutory reasons are set out below.
An employer can only refuse a request on one or more of the following grounds: the burden of additional costs; detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand; inability to reorganise work among existing staff; inability to recruit additional staff; detrimental impact on quality; detrimental impact on performance; insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work; or planned structural changes.
If you as an employer do receive a written request from an employee for flexible working, the employer has 3 months (which can be extended by agreement) within which to consider the request, discuss it with the employee and notify the employee of the outcome.
As an employer it will come as no surprise that the employer must deal with the application in a reasonable manner. ACAS has produced a code and guide for handling requests and an employer could include a flexible working policy in its own staff handbook which would then be a useful guide for both employees and the employer’s managers dealing with the request as to how any flexible working requests will be handled.
In summary, the key point to remember is that the change is only extending the right to request flexible working and has not made this an automatic right for employees to work flexibly. After considering a written request, the main area where an employer may get into difficulty is that if they refuse the request for a reason which is not one of the eight statutory grounds for refusing the application. Take note of the reasons for refusing an application above.
This information was supplied by: Strutt & Co, Commercial Solicitors
They would be happy to discuss this or any other business law matters. Telephone 01768 480230 or see www.struttandco.com