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Two important changes to the law on flexible working come into effect on 30 June 2014:
The Government's aim is to simplify the current statutory procedure, which is very process driven. Under the new procedure, the main requirements are for the employer to:
Employers may still only reject the Request for a permitted reason. This remains unchanged.
ACAS have produced a draft Code of Practice (the Code) to give further guidance on how to deal with a Request. The Code is not binding on employers, but Employment Tribunals will take it into account when deciding cases.
Therefore, employers should generally follow the Code.
Key points from the Code include that employers should:
Employers must consider the Request and are only entitled to reject it for one or more of the existing eight permitted reasons. They are as follows:
Review your policy: if you have a policy that does not already permit all employees with 26 weeks' continuous employment to make a Request, this should be updated. If your current policy includes a prescriptive process (in line with the current statutory procedure), you should consider amending it to reflect the new procedure to give your organisation more flexibility in how it deals with Requests.
Consider training managers: it is important that managers know what to do when they receive a Request and how Requests should be considered. Those dealing with Requests should be aware of what the Code says and how to comply. Training should also highlight the risk of discrimination claims resulting from a refusal to grant a Request and how best to minimise this risk.
Reflect: if your organisation does not already facilitate flexible working, you may wish to think about how it can work within your organisation. Many employers have already embraced flexible working and value the various benefits it can produce. This, and changing employee attitudes, has resulted in a general trend towards additional flexibility which is increasingly valued by employees.
This article was written by Christopher Bushnell.
For more information please contact Christopher on +44 (0)20 7427 6427 or email@example.com