Acas consults on draft flexible working code of practice
13th March, 2013
Under proposals included in the Children and Families Bill 2013, the right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees with at least 26 weeks continuous service. As previously reported, the current statutory procedure which governs the right to request flexible working will be repealed and replaced by a duty on employers to consider requests for flexible working “in a reasonable manner.” The Government asked Acas to produce a code of practice to guide businesses in managing this new extended right and they have now published a consultation on the draft code, which will close on 20 May 2013.
Acas have stated that the proposed key points of the code of practice are that employers should:
- Arrange a meeting with the employee who has requested flexible working as soon as possible after receiving their written request in order to discuss it (unless the employer intends to approve the request);
- Inform the employee about their right to be accompanied by a work colleague to the meeting prior to it and allow them to do be accompanied;
- Ensure that the request is discussed in a private place;
- Approach requests to work flexibly with the presumption that they will be granted;
- Carefully weigh up the benefits of the request for both the employee and employer against any cost(s) of implementing for flexible working for them (without discriminating against the employee);
- Inform the employee of the decision in writing as soon as possible after the discussion;
- Ensure that if a request is rejected, it is for a business reason set out in the legislation i.e. additional costs, an inability to reorganise work or recruit additional staff, a detrimental impact on quality or performance or ability to meet customer demand, insufficient work in the periods the employee proposes to work, or a planned structural change to the business;
- Allow the employee to appeal the decision to reject their request; and
- Deal with requests and appeals within three months from receipt (unless the employee agrees to extend this period).
Acas also intends to produce a non-statutory ‘good practice’ guide containing practical examples of how employers should deal with such requests, which is to be published at the same time as the statutory code. To respond to the consultation please follow this link: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4105.