From the end of this month, the right to request flexible working will be available to all employees with 26 weeks’ service – not just those with children and some types of carers.

The procedure is being simplified as well. The time limits on each stage of the process are gone. Instead, once an individual has made a request the employer has three months to consider it, discuss it with the employee and make a decision. The application must also be dealt with in a reasonable manner.

Employees can still only make one request per year and the eight reasons for refusing a request remain the same as before, namely:

  • the burden of additional costs;
  • detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
  • inability to reorganise work among existing staff;
  • inability to recruit additional staff;
  • detrimental impact on quality;
  • detrimental impact on performance;
  • insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work; or
  • planned structural changes.

An interesting change is that an employer can now treat a request as withdrawn if, without good reason, the employee fails to attend two successive meetings to discuss the request. It’s hard to see why an applicant would miss two such meetings without good cause so this may of little practical importance.

If you would like to discuss the changes or you need help in responding to a request, please contact one of our specialists on 020 7234 0200 or