We had expected the new flexible working regime to come into force on 6 April this year. However, delays with the introduction of the Children and Families Bill now mean this will not happen. The Bill is expected to receive royal assent on 21 March but there is no set date for the introduction of the new flexible working regime. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced that the new regime will be introduced 'at an appropriate date as soon as possible this year.'
This may mean a delay until 1 October which is the other date used by the Government to introduce employment legislation.
Currently, only employees with children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled) and carers can make a request for a flexible work pattern. There is a statutory procedure which must be followed by the employee and employer when dealing with such requests. Under the new regime, the right to request will be available to all employees with 26 weeks' service. Employers will no longer be bound by the statutory regime, but will need to deal with requests in a 'reasonable manner.'