As of 30 June changes to the procedure for flexible working requests will take place. All employees who have worked 26 weeks continuously for an employer will be able to ask if they can work flexibly. Previously only carers had the statutory right to make such a request.
But how do you prepare your company for this change in legislation. Read our top tips on how to handle the law change:
Any requests for flexible working made before 30 June still have to be processed under the old rules, so don't throw out your old flexible working policy just yet.
All employees who have worked for you for 26 weeks continuously before the request can now ask to work flexibly, whether they are carers or not. They must not have made a similar application in the previous 12 months.
In the current draft code of practice it states that employees must provide you with the following:
Requests still need to be in writing. If you can, draft a flexible working application to give to your staff.
Under the old rules employers had to meet strict deadlines on how quickly they had to hold a meeting with the employee making a request. With the new law change, you now don't have a strict timetable to follow, but you must get back to the employee within three months. However, the old time limits do comply with the new rules, so you can keep this in place in your flexible working policy if it's easier for you not to change it.
Once you receive a written request it's best to have a meeting with the member of staff to discuss it. But if you intend to approve the request, then you don't have to hold a meeting. Under the new legislation you're not obliged to let the employee be accompanied by a colleague at this meeting, but it's still advisable to keep this in place.
These haven't changed. You can only reject a request for one of the following business reasons:
You now really don't need to have an appeal process in place after 30 June, but it's wise to still do so. An appeal stage for requests that are turned down helps you to ensure that you have dealt with the request in the “reasonable manner” required under the new legislation. All requests, including any appeals, must be considered and decided on within a period of three months from first receipt, unless you agree to extend this period with the employee. This extension period hasn't been changed under the current legislation.
Your managers will need to know how to handle the new rules and your staff will need to know their new rights. It's good for company relations for an employer to circulate communication on the changes.
Published on: June 19, 2014