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19th June 2014

Flexible Working Requests – Upcoming Changes

The Flexible Working Regulations 2014 will come into force on 30 June 2014 when the amended right to request flexible working takes effect.  When the new regulations come into effect employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment will be able to make a request for flexible working under the statutory scheme for any reason.

The procedure to be followed under the new regulations will be far less prescriptive than those currently in force. The employee triggers the procedure by simply making a written request. The employer then has a period of three-months (which can be extended by agreement) within which to consider the request, discuss it with the employee (if appropriate) and notify the employee of the outcome.

The following will also apply once the new regulations come into force:

  • The employer must deal with the application in a reasonable manner.
  • The employer can still only refuse a request for one (or more) of the eight reasons set out in the Employment Rights Act – namely, the burden of additional costs; 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.
  • The employer may treat the request as having been withdrawn by the employee if, without good reason, the employee fails to attend a meeting arranged to discuss their request and a further meeting rearranged for that purpose. Similar provisions apply in respect of a meeting to consider an employee’s appeal against the rejection of a request.

Once the new regulations come into force an employee can complain to a tribunal if the employer:

  • fails to deal with their application in a reasonable manner;
  • fails to notify them of the decision on their application within the decision period;
  • fails to rely on one of the statutory grounds when refusing their application;
  • bases its decision on incorrect facts; or
  • treats the application as withdrawn when the grounds entitling the employer to do so do not apply.

Employees who make a flexible working request under the new regulations should be informed by the employer that only one request can be made in any 12-month period

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