Flexible working rules are ‘existing practice’

The first draft of the Government’s flexible working regulations will
struggle to encourage more employers to increase the work-life balance of their
staff.

Published last week, the regulations – part of the Employment Act, due to
come into force next year – will mean employees with children under six have a
right to request flexible working.

However, employment law barrister Daniel Barnett said the regulations only
require employers to have a meeting with the member of staff requesting
flexible working hours and then provide the employee with a written explanation
for refusal.

"The regulations are not onerous," he said. "A meeting and
letter ensure compliance. This is no more than existing industrial
practice."

Employee relations adviser at the CIPD Mike Emmott defended the Flexible
Working (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2002.

He said the employment tribunal system would be swamped if decisions could
be challenged.

The regulations can be seen on the DTI website.

www.dti.gov.uk/er/flexdraftregs.pdf

Flexible working fact file

– Employers agreeing to flexible working must provide a written
note of the agreed contract variation and the date on which it is due to take
effect

– Employers refusing a change must meet with the employee
within 28 days of the request

– Reasons for refusals be given in writing within 14 days of
the meeting

– Employees have a right of appeal if the correct procedures
are not followed or if the information the decision is based on is factually
incorrect

– The employee has the right to be accompanied at any meeting

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