A new flexible working scheme came into force on 30 June giving all employees the right to request flexible working.
Prior to this date, flexible working was only available for employees with caring responsibility for children 16 or under or adults which are relatives or who live at the same address as the employee. Employers had to follow a detailed statutory process for dealing with and responding to a request.
As a result of the revamp of the flexible working regime, the right to request flexible working is now open to any employee with at least 26 weeks service.
Employers need to deal with requests in a “reasonable manner” and the purpose of the request and the desire or need for flexible working is irrelevant.
The request can only be rejected on a limited number of identified grounds.
The right to request flexible working does not necessarily mean employees are given flexible working. However, the penalty for failure to comply and deal with the manner reasonably could be up to eight weeks pay, which is the statutory cap.
Employers can better manage flexible working requests by creating the right environment where employees can be sure decisions regarding their requests will be handled objectively and fairly and that employees will not be treated badly because they asked for flexible working arrangements.