According to Alistair Booth, HR consultant and managing director of The HR Booth, as of June 30th 2014, an employee’s statutory right to request flexible working hours is to be extended, as governed by the Children and Families Act 2014. At the heart of these changes is the desire to help employees strike the correct balance between work and the right to a private life. Great news for both the generation X and Y workforce.
At present, employees with children under the age of 17 (or disabled children under the age of 18) and carers have the right to request flexible working. Under the new legislation, this right will be extended to all full and part-time employees with 26 weeks continuous service who have not made a previous request during the same year. Individuals will be legally entitled to make an application to work flexibly for any reason they choose. Employers will be obliged to deal with these requests in a reasonable manner (there is no longer a timescale). Granted the term ‘reasonable’ is ambiguous but fortunately, ACAS has drafted a Code of Practice which explains this obligation in greater detail. The Code advises that an employer host at least one meeting with the employee making the request, to discuss matters. The only deadline employers need be aware of is that employees who make requests must be notified of the outcome within three months of their request being made.
The new legislation grants employees the right to request flexible working, but what does this entail? The possibility to change working hours, working time and location. Employees will be able to request the right to work from home, job sharing opportunities, flexitime and compressed hours.
Advice for Employers
Employers need to update their flexible working policies to remove references to child care/caring responsibilities and/or any timescales for response. Instead, policies should now make reference to the fact that anyone can request the right to work flexibly and that requests will be dealt with in a ‘reasonable’ time frame. If you would like to obtain a free policy document to assist you in making these changes, Alistair Booth from The HR Booth can provide you with one, simply call him on 0844 842 7730 and quote ‘The Best of Dundee and Angus’.
Embracing Flexible Working
The idea that employees can request flexible work patterns is a somewhat daunting prospect for many employers, but it needn’t be. There are real benefits to embracing these changes. Granting flexible working to employees can result in enhanced productivity, employee enjoyment and retention. In short, happy employees = happy customers = enhanced profits = happy employer.
Whilst it is not always possible to grant the specific hours an employee requests, the key is to look at applications on a case by case basis and take a non-discriminatory approach. Claims which are rejected must be done so on one of 8 separate grounds which are detailed within the legislation.
Whether you are an employer or employee, if you would like some friendly, impartial advice the changes mentioned above, please contact The HR Booth today.
Natalie joined The Best Of team in November 2013 as their new marketing assistant. Natalie has an undergraduate degree in law and a postgraduate degree in management. In her spare time she enjoys horse...