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24 July 2014

Flexibility for all employees

From 30 June, new Flexible Working Regulations, part of the Children and Families Bill 2014, came into force, giving all full-time and part-time employees the right to ask for flexible working.

The extended rights mean it is no longer just employees with parental responsibility for young children or carers that are eligible to request flexible working. 

Under the new rules, eligibility means 26 weeks' continuous service and no previous request made within the last 12 months. The statutory procedure for dealing with flexible working requests is also repealed. 

However, it's important to note that eligible employees do not automatically have the right to work flexibly, but rather a right to submit a request to their employer for flexible working

Whilst no qualifying period of employment is required for claiming unfair dismissal where an employee has been dismissed for making a request for flexible working, if a request is refused, the employee must make any claims within three months of the 'relevant date'. 

Under the new regulations, employers will have a duty to consider all requests in a reasonable manner, although they will still be able to turn them down on business grounds.

Employment law partner, Jo Davis adds: “An employer is there to run a business and make a profit, so employees need to be reasonable and flexible in what they ask for. They should think about how the business could work around the request and, if possible, come up with solutions which would make it far harder for the employer to say no.” 

For example, she says, if you want to reduce a five day week to a four day week, it might be quite difficult for an employer to take someone on for only one day. Suggesting you work a three day week and allowing the employer to recruit for someone to fill the other two days, may be a more reasonable alternative. 

And she makes the point that flexible working can take many shapes, including flexitime, home working, job sharing or even shift or contract working.

For advice on the issue of flexible working, please call Jo Davis on 01753 278659 or email employmentlaw@bpcollins.co.uk

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Email: enquiries@bpcollins.co.uk

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