-the parent of a child aged under 17 (under 18 where the child is disabled), or be the carer of a specified adult aged 18 or over, and be making the application in order to enable them to care for the child or adult. These care requirements are being repealed with effect from 30 June 2014.
- In practice, this means the right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees, provided they have worked for their employer for a continuous period of at least 26 weeks at the date their application is made and they have not made another application to work flexibly under the statutory right during the previous 12 months.
-So, any employee with the requisite period of continuous employment will be able to request flexible working, regardless of their reasons for wanting it – they do not even have to specify their reasons.
- Under the statutory right, employees can apply to vary the hours they work, the times they work or their place of work (between their home and their employer’s place of business). However, this does not provide an automatic right for an employee to work flexibly – it is only a right to request.
- Employers have the right to turn down an employee’s application provided they do so for one or more of
eight permitted business reasons i.e.
1. The burden of additional costs.
2. The detrimental effect it would have on ability to meet customer demand.
3. Inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff.
4. Inability to recruit additional staff.
5. The detrimental impact it would have on quality.
6. The detrimental impact it would have on performance.
7. Insufficiency of work available during the period when the employee proposes to work.
8. Planned structural changes.
However, employers should watch out for flexible working requests that could give rise to other types
of claim e.g. a claim for indirect sex discrimination where the request is made by a mother returning
from maternity leave or a disability discrimination claim where the request is made by an employee as a
reasonable adjustment for their disability.
In addition to the extension of the right to request flexible working, the onerous statutory procedure
for dealing with flexible working requests is being repealed with effect from 30 June 2014. Instead, the
legislation will simply place a requirement on employers to “deal with the application in a reasonable
manner” and to “notify the employee of the decision on the application within the decision period”. The decision period is three months beginning with the date on which the employee’s application is made,
or such longer period as may be agreed by the parties. This decision period also includes any appeal
provided by the employer against a decision to reject an employee’s application.