What’s all this about flexible working applications then?
On 30th June 2014, the law changed to allow all employees to apply for/request to work flexibly. Before that date, it was only employees who had caring responsibilities but now any eligible employee can make a request.
Who is an eligible employee?
To be eligible to make a flexible working request, the employee must have at least 26 weeks continuous employment with you.
What kind of requests can I expect to receive?
You might be asked if you will agree to things like:
- Changing days or hours, either reducing hours or perhaps working the same hours over a different number of days;
- Changing place of work, usually allowing an employee to work from home if they’re normally office based.
How will a request be made?
An employee who wants to request flexible working will have to:
- Put it in writing;
- Explain that they are applying to work flexibly;
- Be specific about the change they’re looking for;
- Tell you when they’d like the change to take place;
- Explain what effect, if any, they think the change would have on you as the employer and suggest how that effect could possibly be dealt with.
What do I need to do then?
If you receive a request to work flexibly, you are obliged to deal with it in a reasonable manner. That means:
- A 3 month decision period (this can be extended by agreement) to consider the request, discuss it with the employee and notify them of the outcome;
- Giving consideration to the change in working pattern or working arrangements before meeting with the employee to discuss it;
- Look at possible alternatives if you cannot accommodate their request;
- Be able to demonstrate that you have seriously considered the request and explain if it can or cannot be accommodated (and any reasons for reaching that decision).
If I refuse a flexible working request, what reasons can I give?
You can refuse a request for one or more of 8 specific reasons as set out in the recent legislation:
- The burden of additional costs;
- A detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
- Inability to reorganise work among existing staff;
- Inability to recruit additional staff;
- Detrimental impact on quality;
- Detrimental impact on performance;
- Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work; or
- Planned structural changes.
What do I need to do now?
You’ll need to explain your flexible working procedure to staff so they know what they need to do and what to expect from you in handling a flexible working request. If you already have a flexible working procedure you should make sure that it’s in line with the new statutory procedure. If you don’t have a procedure, you should put one in place.
For help with flexible working, writing procedures and general advice on dealing with requests from your staff, get in touch today