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News update: The right to request flexible working

Flexible working (which can mean anything from an adjustment in working hours, working times, or a change to allow work from home for example) was previously only open to employees who had responsibilities to care for a child under the age of 17 (or 18 in the case of a disabled child) or for adult relatives such as a spouse, civil partner or partner or other relative (mother, father etc).

This has now changed and all employees who have been employed for at least 26 weeks can ask their employer for flexible working arrangements. It should be noted that this is still a right to request which means that employers are not required to grant the proposed changes. As previously was the case employees will still need to make a written request for flexible working, but the rigid statutory procedure that used to apply has now been removed, along with the employee’s statutory right to appeal the employer’s decision.

However there is now an overall requirement for employers to deal requests within a three month period and Acas have introduced a ‘Code of Practice for handling requests in reasonable manner’. Note that the Code still recommends amongst other things that employers allow employees to appeal against decisions. The Acas guide and code of conduct are.

There are specified grounds on which employers are entitled to decline a request, for example where the change would have a detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demands. The employer will need to give a written reason for declining a request.

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