The Flexible Working Regulations 2014, which come into force at the end of June, were published by the government last week.
They extend the right to any employee who has been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks who wants to make a flexible working application on or after 30 June 2014. Currently, this is only available to employees who have parental responsibility for a child aged 16 or under (18 in the case of a disabled child).
The application has to be in writing, stating whether they have applied before and if so, when. If the employer refuses the application, employees can lodge a complaint with an employment tribunal which can award a maximum of eight weeks’ pay (currently £464 per week) if it decides that the complaint is well-founded.
However, employers can refuse an application on a number of specific grounds such as the burden of additional costs. There are few sanctions for refusing requests, and the grounds on which a tribunal claim can be made are limited.
The 2014 regulations revoke the Flexible Working (Eligibility, Complaints and Remedies) Regulations 2002 which set out the statutory process that employers had to follow when considering requests for flexible working. Acas published a revised code and guidance on flexible working earlier in the year.
The 2002 regulations continue to apply to any flexible working applications made before 30 June 2014.
Neil Todd at Thompsons Solicitors said: “The extension of the right to flexible working is welcomed. However as employers continue to be afforded very wide powers to refuse such requests it remains to be seen how much difference this legislation will actually make in practice in enabling employees to work to more flexible patterns to suit their individual needs.”
To access the new regulations, go to: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/1398/contents/made
To read the Acas code, go to: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4699