As of 30 June 2014, the statutory right to request flexible working extends to all qualifying employees. The current statutory procedure for considering such requests will be removed and employers will instead be required to consider all such requests in a reasonable manner. They will, however, retain the right to refuse requests on business grounds.

The changes come following the introduction of the Children and Families Act 2014, which received Royal Assent in March of this year.

What does it all mean?

It means that the statutory right to request flexible working will be extended to include all employees after 26 weeks’ service, rather than only those with children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled) and certain carers. So once the new rules come into effect, any eligible employee can apply to work flexibly for any reason.

‘Flexible working’ in this context may take various forms, including job sharing, part-time working, or working from home.

Employees will still be restricted to only making one request for flexible working within any 12-month period.

What are my duties as an employer?

Employers will have a statutory duty to deal with requests ‘reasonably’ and within a ‘reasonable time’. A draft Code of Practice has been drawn up by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) to assist employers with this new duty.

The draft Code of Practice is accompanied by Guidance. Both can be downloaded from the ACAS website (Employment team at Keystone Law.

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.