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Employment Law - Flexible Working, a year on

Author: Joan Finch, J Finch & Associates Ltd Published: 22nd July 2015 14:10


Family enjoying a picnic


Following the changes introduced to the Right to Request Flexible Working on the 30th June 2014, has there been a massive influx of requests to employers to consider?  Let's remind ourselves of what these changes were.  The main change was that employees no longer had to have the responsibility of children to meet the criteria to make a request.  However, the qualifying service of 26 weeks remained in force.

Casting my mind back in a previous role around (2010), a member of my team asked if they could change their working hours so they could walk their dog.  At that time we had a very stringent rota process in place to meet the team's service delivery requirements.  As the employee had no child care responsibilities she did not meet the qualifying criteria, and from the look of shock on my face she quickly changed her mind.   However, should such a request be made today, a company would have to consider the request in line with the company's Right to Request Flexible Working Policy.

Right to Request Flexible Working is a Statutory right and employees only require 26 weeks service prior to being able to make such a request.  This is commonly known as Qualifying Service.

During the course of our research for this article, the main reason for requests still remain for the purpose of childcare.  Requests are often made through childcare issues themselves or the spiralling cost of childcare.  Employees look at different ways to reduce the impact of these, which could be requesting compressed hours, reduced hours, term time only working, working from home one day per week.

I know having this issue myself over recent years, it can be hard to achieve a work life balance and cover the childcare costs.  I know when I set up my own company, and gained the control of my own working hours, I saved a significant amount on childcare and travel alone.  The best part was my children cheered when I told them I would be at home more and do the school run.

What were the other changes?

As of the 30th June 2014, all employees who qualify can make a formal written request for Flexible Working.  The current statutory procedure was removed and employers are now required to hear requests in a reasonable manner.  The previous business grounds for declining requests will remain in force. 

What should an Employer do if they receive a request for Flexible Working?

On receipt of all formal requests, employers should always act fairly and consistently.  Therefore, ideally, employers want to follow the summary steps below in a reasonable manner:

  • Employers should arrange to meet with the employee to discuss the formal request in more detail, in line with their Company Flexible Working policy.
  • After the meeting, the employer should take time to consider the request and any discussions which took place during the course of the meeting.
  • Inform the employee of the outcome; this can be done in person first, and then the decision followed up in writing.
  • Employee has the right of appeal should the request be declined.
In summary

As an employer, you may now receive formal Flexible Working requests from ALL employees with Qualifying Service.  All applications must be treated fairly and consistently, and dealt with in a reasonable manner.

As a company you will want to ensure you have all the correct documentation in place to support your business at present and in the future, therefore if you have concerns or want to discuss your current and future contract of employment, employee handbook, HR policies and procedures, here at J Finch & Associates Ltd we can provide you with friendly practical advice and the tools to support your business. 

You can contact us by phone on 0330 2230158, by email on enquiries@JFinch.co.uk or visit us at J Finch Associates website

Article by Joan Finch of J Finch & Associates Ltd

Thanks to Joan our AboutMyArea/EN9 editorial contributor for this informative article on "Flexible Working, a year on". Check out Employment Law section in the AboutMyArea Business Zone to read more of her articles.

Joan is an award winning, highly experienced, commercial, self-motivated HR professional who has operated within the sectors of Retail, Hospitality and Catering, specialising in Employees Relations. Joan is now the proud owner and creator of J Finch & Associates Ltd.  Joan's career spans over 10 years, and has broad experience within Human Resources, with initially being a HR generalist covering all aspect of HR from Recruitment, learning and development, training, Employee Relations, redundancy, restructures and TUPE. Since 2008 she has specialised in Employee Relations applying a commercial and practical approach to all ER related issues.


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