What changes have been made to the right to request flexible working?
The right to request flexible working, which allows employees to request a contractual change in their working arrangements to care for a child or adult dependent, was extended to all employees this summer. In the past, only employees with parental responsibility for children under the age of 16, parents of disabled children under the age of 18, and carers of adult dependents, had the right to request flexible working. In addition to extending this right to all employees, the Government abolished the complicated statutory procedure that employers had to follow when considering a flexible working request, and replaced with with a duty to consider requests in a "reasonable manner" and within a reasonable period of time. Whilst employees will welcome the extension of this right to all employees, employers are likely to welcome the simplification of the procedural requirements.
Importantly, the right is to make a request for flexible working and not a right to work flexibly. As before, employers are entitled to refuse a request for flexible working on valid business grounds and, as before, only one request can be made in any 12 month period.