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Flexible working change on way

Employers are reminded that all employees will have the right to request flexible working from this month.

At present, employers are legally required to “consider seriously” requests to work flexibly only from employees with a child aged 16 or under, a child with disabilities aged under 18 and employees looking after an adult dependant, such as an elderly parent.

The new measure will extend the right to request flexible working to all employees with 26 weeks’ service.

The new rules, which will come into force on 30 June 2014, do not give employees the right to work flexibly but employers will be required to deal with their requests to a change in a “reasonable” manner.

Guidance issued by employment relations service Acas says: “An employer should consider the request carefully looking at the benefits of the requested changes in working conditions for the employee and the business and weighing these against any adverse business impact of implementing the changes. Employers are under no statutory obligation to grant a request to work flexibly if it cannot be accommodated by the business.”

Reasons for rejecting a request to work flexible include:

  • any extra costs involved are unacceptable to the business
  • inability to reorganise work among existing staff
  • inability to recruit extra staff
  • detrimental effect on quality or performance
  • detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand.