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New flexible working scheme comes into force on 30 June 2014

Napthens - April 25th 2014

The current position

Only employees with caring responsibilities are currently entitled to make a flexible working request. The employee making the request must have caring responsibilities for a child under 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled) or for an adult, subject to certain eligibility criteria.

Once an employer has received a flexible working request, they are legally obligated to follow statutory procedure, which is very prescribed. If a request is refused by the employer, it must be on one or more of the statutory grounds for refusal.

Proposed changes

On 30 June 2014 the Flexible Working Regulations will be amended. This will mean that the right to request flexible working will be extended to cover all employees (with at least 26 weeks’ service). The current statutory procedure of prescribed timescales for considering and dealing with requests will be abolished and instead employers will have a duty to consider all requests in a “reasonable manner”.

However, the current grounds on which a flexible working request can be refused will remain. Any flexible working requests must be responded to within three months of an application being made. A statutory Code of Practice will be published to help employers understand the meaning of 'reasonableness'.

Further guidance will be published to assist employers dealing with conflicting working requests at the same time and how employers can handle temporary changes to working patterns.