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Flexible working rights extended to all employees – key points for employers

As from 30 June 2014, all employees are able to request flexible working hours, as new legislation extends to all the same rights previously restricted to carers and those looking after children.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has said that 20 million people now have the right to ask to work flexibly. The move has been widely welcomed by unions, but some business groups have expressed concerns about the additional administrative burden.

Lisle Brown of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) told the BBC: "We know from our own membership that more than three quarters of our members offer flexible working but there will be a small number of small businesses who just will not be able to do that, whether it's through cost or just from balancing their teams.”

Key points for employers

From 30 June 2014 every employee has the statutory right to request flexible working after 26 weeks employment service. Employees can only make one request in any 12 month period.

Requests should be in writing stating the date of the request and whether any previous application has been made and the date of that application. Requests and appeals must be considered and decided upon within three months of the receipt of the request.

Employers should consider requests in ‘a reasonable manner’ and can only refuse them if there is a business reasons for doing so. Permissible reasons are:

the burden of additional costs
an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
an inability to recruit additional staff
a detrimental impact on quality
a detrimental impact on performance
detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
a planned structural changes to the business.

More detailed information for employers, including a video, is available at the Acas website: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1616