Flexible Working requests, at-a-glance flow chart of the new procedures

Posted by : | 25th Jun 2014 | Employment law for HR Directors, General

From 30th June 2014, the right to request flexible working is extended to all employees who have worked for 6 months for their employer. Under the new laws, Employers are legally bound to consider requests  and have a decision period of 3 months to respond.
Read more on the new Flexible Working Laws  & what to do when faced with a Flexible Working Request .

Many employers will be familiar with these requests from employees relating to childcare and caring responsibilities and with the procedures for handling them. The new laws effectively widen the pool of people who can request a change to their working patterns, and they put a duty on the employer to consider requests “in a reasonable manner”.

The obvious approach for employers is to sit down with the employee and discuss/agree a workable solution.

There is a new procedure to follow, as well as 2 Acas documents:
a brief Acas Code
and a longer Acas Guide to handling flexible working requests, and what the “reasonable manner” means in practice.

Below is a flow chart showing the procedure for handling a flexible working request.  It’s a simple principle made more complicated by complex regulations which busy HR Directors and employers need to follow and understand. Click on the  image to enlarge it.

Flexible Working requests, flow chart of the new procedures

How to prepare for the new flexible working changes.

It makes good sense for Employers and HR Directors to prepare for a significant increase in flexible working requests, for handling multiple requests coming in at the same time, and for the administrative challenges of running teams with differing working patterns.

1. Update handbooks with new Flexible Working Policy

If your company has an existing flexible working policy, it will be out of date after 30th June 2014 and will need to be updated to reflect the new laws and procedures.

If not, take advantage of this opportunity to think about flexible working and to create a policy that works for your business and your workforce.  You can use trial periods to test and measure the effect, and refine the policy to make it work for the business. Companies with policies in place  are able to show they are complying with the new laws and regulations, to demonstrate this to employees and prospective candidates, and to benefit from the resulting productivity gains and attractiveness/stickiness as an employer.

2. Template letters responding to a request for flexible working.

Employers are also now required to tell employees how to apply for flexible working. There is more administration involved for the busy HR Director, we suggest saving template request letters, and response letters from the company, into your files, so you have them to hand.

3. Best practice for handling requests for flexible working.

As more employees request, and are granted,  flexible working going forward, it will become more challenging for companies to be consistent in their responses to requests.  Companies will also need to minimize the disruption of managing multiple requests at once, and of managing the increased administration involved in running a workforce where more employees are on flexible working agreements than ever before.

Take an example from a recent PLC client, whose 5 strong administration team all requested, and were granted, flexible working.  The company didn’t plan sufficiently, and the now fractured team is unable to deliver the administration service that the company needs. As a result, the head office is considering moving the administration function to another part of the country, making the whole administration department redundant.

Flexible Working Toolkit: policy + templates + legal guidance

New Flexible Working laws Guide & Toolkit from The Legal PartnersWith this in mind, we’ve put together a Flexible Working  Toolkit to enable busy Employers and HR Directors to comply easily with the new rules, manage and administer the  new procedures with maximum benefit and minimum disruption.

The toolkit includes:

 – a flexible working policy,  a new one / updated version,
 – plus all  required template letters
 – plus a  30 minutes consultation (by phone, email, Skype) with one of our lawyers to help you tailor the policy to the business.

All for £299+VAT.  For details, and for more in-depth advice on creating a flexible working policy for your company, please contact The Legal Partners on 0203 755 5288 or by email Richard.mullett@thelegalpartners.com

 

A final word about  the rights of working parents.

Its fair to suggest from the Acas short guide to flexible working requests,  that Acas expects the majority of flexible working requests will still be related to childcare, and workers returning  from maternity leave.  Below is a table showing the rights of working parents, taken from this Acas short guide to flexible working requests so you know what rights ACAS is highlighting to employees.

Rights of working parents, Acas short guide to flexible working

Rights for working parents_Acas_flexible working short guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Useful links: Right to request Flexible Working | Advice and Guides | Acas

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