The extension of the right to request flexible working arrangements will be extended to all employees with 26 weeks’ service on 30 June. The procedural requirements that employers need to follow when dealing with requests are also being relaxed.
Although the formal procedural requirements will be reduced to a minimum, employers will still be subject to two over-riding requirements. The first is to deal with all requests “in a reasonable manner”. The second, linked, obligation is to deal with all applications (including processing any appeal) within a three month period. To help employers interpret these obligations, ACAS has published a code of practice and associated guidance. On the procedural side most employers who are in compliance with the current regime will find that little change is required.
The most difficult area is likely to be how best to deal competing requests. If the take-up is high, employers may face a difficult task balancing the need to deal with all requests on their merits while bearing in mind their broader obligations under the Equality Act. These and other issues are examined in our briefing on the new flexible working regime published earlier this year.