Flexible Working Time
During 2011 there were some significant consultations within Government that were titled Modern Workplace consultations. One of the points that was put forward in these consultations, and which has been taken up by the Government, is to bring in statutory requests for flexible working time in certain circumstances. The decision to bring this in was made in 2011/2012, and from April 2014 it will be brought into effect.
Currently any employee who cares for a child under the age of 16 or disabled child under the age of 18 has the right to ask their employer to work more flexibly.
The new rules which take effect in April 2014 means that any employee who has been with their employer for 26 weeks (Approximately 6 months) will have the right to request flexible working time, they will however only be allowed to make one statutory request a year and so need to ensure that they put forward a clear argument with the benefits of it. It does not matter if it’s to do with childcare or not, as long as they meet the 26 weeks qualifying period they can submit a request known as a statutory application.
The term flexible working is a very wide term and can be used to cover a whole host of different means of flexible working. This can include job sharing (i.e. when 2 people do 1 job and split the hours), working from home, compressed hours (full time hours over fewer days), Flexitime (choose when to start and end work-works core hours eg 10-4 every day). There are other options which can be seen on the gov.uk website.
As mentioned above you can only make one application a year so you need to ensure it covers as much detail as you can. Once it has been submitted the employer has to deal with the request in a reasonable manner (this is less strict than it currently stands where an employer has to respond within 28 days). Decisions made by the employer should be made for business reasons and be explained to the employee as soon as possible. If they do turn down the request there may be opportunities for an employee to appeal the decision if there are arrangements for it within company policy. ACAS have stated that they wish for the decisions to be made within 3 months maximum unless both parties agree for it to take longer to come to a decision.
However please remember that these changes do not take effect until next year and that currently only those caring for children and occasionally adults are able to request flexible working arrangements at present.