Right to request flexible working changes: eight steps to reviewing your flexible working policy

Flexible working

Important changes to the law on the right to request flexible working take effect on 30 June 2014. We set out eight easy steps that employers can take to amend their procedures for dealing with employees’ requests for flexible working that are made on or after 30 June.

1. Don’t throw out your old flexible working policy just yet

While the law on the right to request flexible working is changing on 30 June 2014, employers need to bear in mind that the old rules still apply to employees’ requests to work flexibly submitted before 30 June. Requests made before 30 June should still be dealt with under the old procedure, including requests that are ongoing on that date.

2. Explain to employees who is eligible to make a flexible working request

The eligibility requirements are changing on 30 June 2014 so that employees no longer have to have parental responsibility for young children or be a carer to request flexible working. However, the new policy should explain to employees the minimum service requirement that is in place under the new rules.

3. Remind employees of what a flexible working request must include

Employers should set out in their flexible working policy what information employees must include in flexible working applications and, ideally, provide a form for employees to fill in when making a flexible working application.

4. Decide on time limits for dealing with flexible working requests

Employers can choose their own time limits as long as the process is completed within three months. Under the old rules, strict time limits applied for the employer to hold a meeting with the employee to discuss his or her flexible working request. Employers that are reviewing their flexible working policy for the 30 June changes may wish to keep these time limits in place, since the old time limits comply with the new laws too.

Flexible working: what’s staying the same?

While there are a number of important changes to the right to request flexible working from 30 June, some rules survive. These include:

  • The employee must still have 26 weeks’ continuous service with the employer to be eligible to make a request.
  • Requests must still be in writing and include certain specified information.
  • Employees can still make only one request in every 12-month period.
  • The refusal of requests for flexible working must still be for one or more of a number of specified business reasons.
  • The time limit for coming to a decision on whether or not to grant a flexible working request can still be extended, typically to allow for a trial period of the new arrangement.

5. Continue to offer employees the right to be accompanied at flexible working meetings if you can

Although no longer a legal requirement, it is a good idea for employers to allow employees to be accompanied by a work colleague at any flexible working meeting. This is particularly important where an employee needs special assistance, for example where he or she is disabled or English is not his or her first language.

6. Continue to offer employees an appeal stage if you can

Strictly speaking, employers do not have to offer an appeal stage to employees who make flexible working requests on or after 30 June 2014. While it may not be possible for small businesses to offer an appeal stage, it is advisable for employers, if possible, to continue to offer employees who are dissatisfied with the outcome of their flexible working request the right to appeal. An appeal stage for requests that are turned down will go some way to ensuring that requests are dealt with in the “reasonable manner” required under the new legislation.

7. Inform managers of the new policy on requests for flexible working

Since line managers will often be dealing with flexible working requests, it is important that the employer informs them of its amended rules on employees requesting flexible working. This could take the form of training or a circulated communication to managers setting out how they should deal with requests for flexible working made on or after 30 June 2014.

8. Inform employees of their new rights in relation to requesting flexible working

Many employees are likely to be unaware of their new right to request flexible working. It constitutes good industrial relations for employers to set out in a circulated communication the extended right to request flexible working in force from 30 June 2014.

One Response to Right to request flexible working changes: eight steps to reviewing your flexible working policy

  1. Franziska Friedberger 16 Jun 2014 at 11:36 pm #

    Why of why do employers and the rat-bag government and opposition politicians hide under the specious guise of “process” which masks the real problems with excessive bureaucracy. As an inherently law-abiding people, the English/British tend to comply and neither comment nor challenge either “rules” or “process”. Ladies, gentlemen and those in between – rise up; rebel and QUESTION this subservient and too readily obedient society under which we are subliminally and covertly oppressed. The rich get rich; the poor get poorer and the squeeze middle are ever-more compressed. Are we wo/men or mice; RISE UP AND REBEL. We are intelligent and independent individuals; lets remain so in the face of stupid, greedy and self-satisfied politicos who represent the main parties. If we dont fight for our freedom, the Naziis will rule UK. End of rant and please join me