The Flexible Working Regulations 2014
July 24, 2014
On 30 June 2014, the Flexible Working Regulations 2014 (Regulations) came into force and expand flexible working rights for employees in England, Scotland and Wales. The new regulations extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, not just those who have certain parental or caring responsibilities. Employers have the duty to consider all requests in a reasonable manner; however, they can refuse flexible working requests based on business grounds.
The government stated that the purpose for extending this right to all employees is to benefit both businesses and employees. It is important for businesses to hold onto experienced and skilled staff in order to maintain quality and contain costs. Flexible working increases staff members’ commitment and loyalty, thus allowing businesses to retain and recruit skilled workers. This translates into increased productivity and profitability for the company. Flexible working also allows employees to strike a better balance between their family or other responsibilities and their work lives.
The Regulations do not extend to Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland employers should continue to follow current flexible working rights afforded to employees with certain parental or caring responsibilities, as set out by the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 and related regulations and amendments.
WHAT IS FLEXIBLE WORKING?
The term ‘flexible working’ can refer to many different types of working options, including hours of work, times of work and places of work. The following are some common examples:
WHO IS ENTITLED TO MAKE REQUESTS?
Before the 30th June, only employees who are parents of children under 17 (or 18 if disabled) or who care for an adult have a statutory right to request flexible working. Now all employees who have been continuously employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks are entitled to make a flexible working application.
The application must be in writing and should include:
HOW TO HANDLE REQUESTS
After receiving a written flexible working request, employers should carefully consider the request by weighing the benefits for the employee and business against any adverse effects. Then schedule a meeting with the employee to discuss the request. If the flexible working request is rejected, it must be based on one of the grounds set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996:
Additionally, employers should deal with all requests promptly and have a proper appeal process in place.
For more information on the changes, see www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/1398/contents/made