Working?

Changes that will extend the right to request flexible working have been scheduled after the Children and Families Act was passed in Parliament in March. These changes are due to come into force from 30 June 2014. This will mean that the right to request flexible working will be extended to cover all employees after 26 weeks’ service, rather than only those with children under the age of 17.

The changes also remove the current statutory procedure for considering requests. Instead, employers will have a duty to consider all requests in a reasonable manner. The legislation does not give employees the right to work flexibly as employers will have the option to refuse requests on business grounds.


Here’s some background on the legislation and you can get a copy of this briefing at our LinkedIn company page:

REQUIREMENTS

Employees must have 26 weeks continuous employment at the date the application is made
Employers have a statutory duty to consider applications
Once agreed it becomes a permanent change to the contract of employment
An employee has the right to appeal if necessary against the outcome
Employers should try to negotiate a compromise if the specific requested hours are not possible
Only one application can be made in a 12 months period

The proposed code of practice for handling requests in a reasonable manner outlines:

That requests from employees be made in writing
That you must consider the request
That you discuss it with the employee
That you give the employee feedback; and
That you deal with the request promptly

There are a number of reasons why you might not be able to approve the request. If you do reject the request it must be for one of the following business reasons as set out in the legislation:

The burden of additional costs
An inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
An inability to recruit additional staff
A detrimental impact on quality
Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
Insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
A planned structural change to your business

BENEFITS

There are several proven benefits to introducing more flexibility into your organisation, including:

Retention of skills and experience. Research shows that the lack of flexibility is a key reason why women leave organisations. Clients tell us they’d rather retain a high performing employee on fewer hours than lose them and have to recruit a replacement
Employee satisfaction. A flexible working week allows people to balance their commitments and increases their job satisfaction as well as improve their loyalty and commitment
Workforce flexibility. Flexible resources enables an organisation to affordably and quickly flex capacity during busy times as well as handle extended working days, important when serving international markets.

TYPES OF FLEXIBLE WORKING

Your employee should propose a workable format and there is a range of options that could work :

Change of Work Pattern
Compressed hours: Full-time hours over four days a week featuring longer days
Working from home: Part or all of the week based in another location – often home
Staggered hours: Variation in start and finish times e.g. a later start and later finish
Reduced Hours
Part-time week: Four or less full-hour days per week
Part-day week: Five days a week but reduced hours e.g., 9.30am to 3.00pm every day
Job Share: Introduce a job-share partner to maintain full-time hours

NEXT STEPS

As this change is likely to receive media coverage, you should update your policies and prepare employee communications in advance.

We’re happy to discuss this further with you and check out the ACAS website for more detailed information and where they have the draft code of practice in full and a guide to handling requests.

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