Last Wednesday (6 May) was Flexible Working Awareness Day. Hailed as a day to reward and recognise the companies and individuals who showcase how flexible working works and the commercial benefits it can bring. Did you celebrate, or was this date overshadowed by the General Election the following day?
The rules on flexible working changed last June allowing all employees with 26 weeks' service to apply to work flexibly. The request could be for part-time working, term-time working, job share, flexi-time, compressed hours or home working. Employers used to receiving such requests from women returning from maternity leave or those with caring responsibilities braced themselves for a barrage of requests from across their workforce. Has this happened? There is little evidence on the impact of the changes introduced last year.
To recap on the rules; a qualifying employee can make a request to work flexibly as long as they haven't made a request in the previous 12 months. The employer must process the request, including any appeals within a three month period. If accepted, the new arrangements form a permanent change to the employee's contract. Employers can only refuse a request for one of the business reasons set out below:
If you didn't celebrate flexible working last week, it may be time to check your policies are up to date this week.
- the burden of additional costs;
- an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff;
- an inability to recruit additional staff;
- a detrimental impact on quality;
- a detrimental impact on performance;
- detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
- insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work; or
- a planned structural changes to the business.