On 6th April 2011 the right to request flexible working will be extended to parents of children under 18.
This right currently applies to employees who have had 26 weeks’ continuous employment before applying and have not made an application to work flexibly under the right during the past 12 months and:-
(i) have or expect to have parental responsibility of a child aged under 17 or,
(ii) have or expect to have parental responsibility of a disabled child under 18 who receives Disability Living Allowance or
(iii) the parent/guardian/special guardian/foster parent/private foster carer or as the holder of a residence order or the spouse, partner or civil partner of one of these and are applying to care for the child or
(iv) are a carer who cares, or expects to be caring, for an adult who is a spouse, partner, civil partner or relative; or who although not related to the applicant lives at the same address as the applicant.
This move to extend the right to parents of children under 18 is the first stage of changes to the law that will eventually extend the right to request flexible working to all employees.
Under the present law a business must seriously consider the application, and only reject it if there are good business reasons for doing so. The employee only has the right to ask for flexible working, not the right to have it.
Good business grounds for refusing an application can include the burden of additional costs, the detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand, the inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff, the inability to recruit additional staff, the detrimental impact on quality, the detrimental impact on performance, the insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work and the planned structural changes.
Daven Naghen, head of our Employment Team, commented as follows:-
“Employers will need to take care to update flexible working policies and procedures to cover this slight change to the rules. Currently the statutory right is just a right to request flexible working, and is not a right to have it. Therefore employers can still reasonably decline applications if there is a legitimate business ground for doing so.
Those employees who do not have the statutory or legal right to request flexible working are still free to ask their employer if they can work flexibly. It will be a matter for the business as to whether or not it is willing to consider such a request – it may be good employment practice to do so.”
If you require advice about dealing with an application by a member of staff for flexible working then please contact Daven Naghen on 01775 722261 or email firstname.lastname@example.org