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Overview

Until 30 June 2014 only employees with caring responsibilities could make a
formal request for flexible working. From 30 June the requirement to be a carer
is removed. In summary the provisions are:
All employees who have been employed for 26 weeks can ask their
employer to work flexibly, without the need to give a reason;
The employer must consider the request in a reasonable way see
the ACAS Code of Practice and the ACAS Guidance;
The employer can only refuse on prescribed grounds;
The employee must be told of the decision within 3 months;
Only one request can be made in any 12 months;
The change will be permanent unless otherwise agreed;
Failure by the employer to consider the request and act reasonably
may give rise to a claim for compensation;
An employee must not be disadvantaged or dismissed for making a re-
quest;
Refusal of a request may be discrimination.




info@yesslaw.org.uk / 020 3701 7530 / www.yesslaw.org.uk
Your Employment Settlement Service, Somerset House, Strand, London,
WC2R 1LA
Company limited by guarantee no: 8838317. Charity no: 1155344
The new Flexible Working Regime from 30 June 2014
Your rights and how to negotiate them
Camilla Palmer, CEO, Your Employment Settlement Service
cpalmer@yesslaw.org.uk


What is Flexible working?

A change to the hours worked, eg reducing the number of hours,
A change to the working hours, eg a later start or earlier finish,
Working from a different location, eg from home.

This would cover compressed hours, flexi-time, homeworking, job-sharing,
shift working, term-time hours and most other working patterns.

What is the new procedure?

You should make a written (and dated) application setting out:
o Proposed change to working conditions and date of change,
o Effect of change on the employer and how to deal with that,
o A statement that this is a statutory request and setting out any
previous applications, giving dates,
o If the reason for the change is to care for someone (eg child or
dependant), it is advisable to say this, so the employer can
take this into account; refusal of flexible working may be di-
rect or indirect sex discrimination.

Your employer must consider the request and should consider:
o The benefits of the requested changes for the employee and
the business, weighing the benefits against any adverse busi-
ness impact;
o Avoiding discrimination.

Employers obligations under the procedure

The employer should discuss the request with you as soon as possi-
ble, allowing you to be accompanied to a meeting unless the request
is agreed when it may not be necessary to meet;

The employer must give you a decision as soon as possible, at least
within 3 months of the request, and the decision should be in writing;

The employer can refuse the request on one of the following grounds:
o The burden of additional costs
o An inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
o An inability to recruit additional staff
o A detrimental impact on quality
o A detrimental impact on performance
o Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
o Insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
o A planned structural change to your business.

Note

The employers main obligation is to act reasonably;
There is no obligation on the employer to hold a meeting but it may be
unreasonable not to do so;
There is no right to be accompanied; ACAS advise the employer to al-
low this;
There is no right to appeal against the refusal of a request;
An employee can withdraw an application any time after it was made;
Failure to attend 2 meetings may lead the employer to assume the ap-
plication has been withdrawn;
Refusal of flexible working may be indirect sex discrimination;
Remember Dads can apply for flexible working as can grandparents.

Negotiating tips

Consider all the options: part-time working (3/4 days per week), job-
sharing, compressed hours (35 hours in 4 long days), a variation in
hours (eg leaving at 5pm and perhaps catching up in the evening),
partial working from home (to save the commute), term-time working.

Remember you have no right to work flexibly; it depends on whether
your employer agrees, so a conciliatory approach is best; plan care-
fully what you will say to persuade your employer that it is good for
them as well as you.

Consider how the change would work and how flexible you can be, eg
o You may prefer not to work Friday but may be refused if too
many employees are off; can you choose another day?
o Would partly working from home be viable; how will you com-
municate with clients and colleagues? Do you have a home
office and childcare?
o If you want to do a reduced week, will you be available if there
is an urgent matter? Can you change your day if necessary,
eg for a meeting?

You should attend meetings if possible; you can ask that they take
place over the phone or at a convenient location, such as at home or a
nearby caf.

If your employer is reluctant to agree the change, consider asking for a
trial period to show that it would work. This could be working partly
from home, compressed hours, shorter hours etc.


Consider what issues your employer might raise and how you would
deal with them, eg
o How will the change impact on colleagues; would you want to
discuss it with them?
o Who will cover your work if you want to work reduced hours,
o Will it be necessary to recruit someone else and how easy will
that be?
o Will there be issues around continuity and how will you re-
spond?
o If you know of other employees who have worked flexibly in
similar jobs, give examples. There is a lot of research which
shows that flexible working is good for morale so good for
business.

Be prepared (with all your arguments), be positive (about the ad-
vantages for your employer) and be persuasive (not confrontational)

Discrimination

An unjustified refusal of a flexible working request may be indirect
sex discrimination. This occurs when:
o There is a provision, criteria or practice (PCP), such as full-time
working, which applies or would apply to all employees;
o The PCP puts women at a particular disadvantage compared to
men; it is mainly women who work part-time to care for chidren;
o The PCP puts the woman at a disadvantage because, for ex-
ample, she would not be able to get childcare;
o The employer cannot show that the PCP (eg full-time working)
is justified bearing in mind the needs of the individual woman
and the needs of the business.

Refusal of flexible working to a man may be direct discrimination if a
woman in a similar situation would have been granted it.
Remedies
The tribunal can order that the employer reconsider the request and award
limited compensation. Compensation for discrimination is not capped.

info@yesslaw.org.uk / 020 3701 7530 / www.yesslaw.org.uk
Your Employment Settlement Service, Somerset House, Strand, London,
WC2R 1LA
Company limited by guarantee no: 8838317. Charity no: 1155344