The Government has announced that it intends from 2014 to extend the statutory right to make a flexible working request to all employees with 26 weeks' continuous employment.  Currently the right is limited to certain qualifying employees with caring responsibilities.

As is the case now, there will be no automatic right to flexible working, only the right to request flexible working.

There will be no exceptions based on the size of the employer although, as at present, employees will be limited to one flexible working request in any 12 month period.

The current statutory procedure for considering flexible working requests will be replaced by a duty on employers to consider requests in a reasonable manner and within a reasonable period of time.

ACAS will publish a statutory code of practice giving guidance to employers on the meaning of 'reasonable' in this context.  The consultation on the code of practice will take place in 2013.

ACAS has also been asked to publish wider guidance which will include information on good practice and on how to deal with conflicting requests received at the same time.

The Government has also made announcements in relation to a proposed flexible parental leave system together with additional family friendly reforms.  Details can be found in our employment law update here.