Flexible Working: Are we about to become armchair employees?

Hakan Enver 30.06.2014

From today, every employee now has the right to apply to their employer for flexible working. Employment law solicitor, Philip Landau, explains the new law in more detail.

From 30th June 2014, employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment with their employer will be able to make a request for flexible working. Up until now, it has only been available to those who have children under 17 (or 18 if they have a disability) or who care for an adult dependant.

So what is flexible working?

Flexible working could mean working from home, part-time working, flexi-time, job sharing or shift working. Most employers already offer some of their staff a form of flexible working, especially part-time work.

The new law gives all employees a new right to make a "request" to their employer to work flexibly. This does not mean a “right” - it is a request. What is the right?

The new law gives all employees a new right to make a “request” to their employer to work flexibly. This does not, however, mean a “right” to work flexibly - it is a request, which is an important distinction. The new law gives all employees a new right to make a “request” to their employer to work flexibly.

How do you make the request?

If you want to make a request, you must to do in writing setting out:

  • The date of the application, the change to working conditions you are seeking, and when you would like the change to come into effect.
  • What effect you think the requested change would have on your employer and how, in your opinion, any such effect might be dealt with.
  • That this is a statutory request, and whether you have made a previous application for flexible working, and if so, the date of that application.
     

How must an employer deal with your request?

Your employer is required to consider your request objectively, and in a “reasonable manner”. They need to notify you within three months of the request being made as to whether your application to work flexibly has been successful. By a reasonable manner, this means your employer should consider and communicate your request in good time, and provide clear business reasons if the request is rejected. 

There are 8 such reasons that an employer can give which include: 

  • the burden of additional costs;
  • whether there is a detrimental impact on performance;
  • an inability to meet customer demand;
  • an inability to reorganise work;
  • difficulties in recruiting new staff.
     

Is an employer’s rejection final, or can it be challenged? 

Although ACAS say it is good practice to have an appeals process, there is no obligation on an employer to do so.

If a request is approved, does it represent a permanent change to your terms and conditions? 

Yes, it will represent a permanent change with no right to return to the original terms in the future, unless otherwise agreed. 

Only time will tell to what extent the new law will revolutionise working practises, and if employers can finally break away from the traditional 9-5 office based routine.

Related blogs:

Philip Landau, Employment Lawyer

Philip Landau is an employment law solicitor and partner at London firm Landau Law. Follow him on Twitter at @philiplandau or on LinkedIn.

 

 

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Hakan Enver's picture
Managing Director
henver@morganmckinley.com

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