For a number of years, employers have been familiar with parents and carers having the right to request flexible working. That right has now been extended to all employees, irrespective of their circumstances.
The new rules, which came into effect on 30th June 2014, just require an employee to have been in their job for 26 weeks to acquire the right to request flexible working.
Employers can reject a request for flexible working if they can show any of the following reasons:
extra costs which will damage the business
the work can’t be re-organised among other staff
people can’t be recruited to do the work
flexible working will affect quality and performance
the business won’t be able to meet customer demand
there’s a lack of work to do during the proposed working times
the business is planning changes to the workforce
It is noteworthy that the person’s reasons for making the request do not form one of the factors an employer can use to justify its rejection. So if an employee requested flexible working because they didn’t like early mornings, an employer would still presumably have to rely on one of the reasons set out above if the request were refused.
There are some other changes from the existing regime. Any employees making requests from 30th June 2014 onwards will not automatically have a right of appeal against the decision, although some employers may still decide to offer one. Nevertheless, the ultimate threat remains the same – the right of the employee to bring a complaint to an employment tribunal if the employer fails to grant the request and if the employer’s reasons are not accepted.