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Legal changes to flexible working requests

Changes in Flexible Working Requests

Legal changes that will extend the right to request flexible working to ALL eligible employees will come into force on 30 June 2014.

Currently, only employees with children under 17 yrs(,or 18 yrs if disabled) and those who have responsibilities as a carer have a right to request a flexible working arrangement. The new law extends the right to make a flexible working request to any employee who has at least 26 weeks’ continuous service.

However, it’s not all bad news for employers as they will receive some flexibility too. The new law replaces the statutory procedure for consideration of flexible working requests, with a duty on employers to deal with requests in a ‘reasonable’ manner. The reasons for refusing a request remain unchanged so employers can sensibly assess requests against a range of business reasons and approve or reject them accordingly.

As before, the legislation does not give employees the right to work flexibly but provides a right to request flexible working. Eligible employees can request a change to working hours, working time or working location. This includes a wide range of working patterns, such as job sharing, working from home, part time working, compressed hours and flexitime.

According to a new YouGov survey, 26 per cent of British workers (excluding sole traders) say they are likely to request flexible working arrangements once the new legislation comes into force. 18-24 year-olds are the keenest age group to ask their employer (31%) and women are more likely to make the request (30%) than men (22%).

Up until now, 69 per cent of the working population has never made a flexible working request. Of these workers, 13 per cent cited financial implications as a reason for not requesting flexibility, while nearly a quarter (22%) said they did not think their request would be accepted.

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