Since 2014, employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment can make a request for flexible working. 2019 will mark 5 years since the introduction of the Flexible Working Regulations and the Government is keen to evaluate the effectiveness of flexible working rights. Work to review flexible working is already well under way, carried out in part by the Government’s Flexible Working Task Force which met for the first time in March 2018.
What might change following the review?
As yet, there is no confirmation on what changes the Government may make to flexible working rights (if any). The Government has previously stated that it wants to provide greater flexibility for women, older workers, carers and disabled people. These groups are typically over-represented within part-time work. One potential change may include a reduction in the requirement for 26 weeks’ continuous employment before making a flexible working request.
If the Government is genuinely committed to increasing workforce flexibility, it may also permit employees to make more than one flexible working request in any 12 month period. We could additionally see further detail on temporary periods of flexible working. At present, temporary changes are recognised as a possibility within Acas guidance, but greater legislative certainty would be welcomed.
The 2019 review is likely to include consultations with key stakeholders and the public at large. If your business has been particularly affected by flexible working rights, you may wish to consider having your views heard during the consultation.
What should I be doing now?
Radical change is unlikely, so it would be sensible to ensure that you are compliant with the law on flexible working in its current state. This means that, if the review does result in changes, the impact on your business will be minimised. Employers should provide employees with a flexible working policy. It is also useful to provide employees and decision-makers with standard forms for making and responding to flexible working requests.
Please contact our Employment team if you require any guidance or support on flexible working. For updates from us and the latest Employment news follow us on Twitter @CrippsEmpLaw.