Working from home - flexible working

The right to flexible working extended to all employees

Flexi-time. Work-life balance. Remote working. These are just some of the terms businesses up and down the country will be hearing a lot more of this year as a result of the new Children and Families Act that has come into effect.

From 30 June 2014, the right to flexible working was extended to all employees with at least 26 weeks’ service, regardless of their caring responsibilities. Moreover, under the new rules, employers must deal with applications in a ”reasonable manner” and notify the employee of their decision on the application within 14 days.

The crucial point with this new rule change is that it applies to all your employees, regardless of whether they have children or are a carer, so it’s important that you create or have updated your flexible working, maternity and paternity policies as well as employee contracts to reflect those changes. I will explain in greater detail what this means for your business.

The right to request flexible working

The Act has extended the “right” to request flexible working to all employees providing they have been in continuous employment for 26 weeks. Flexible working can take the form of a change in working hours or the times and place of work. Businesses will still have a duty to consider the request, and they will still be allowed to refuse on business grounds.

With technology now making it easier than ever for people to work remotely (think cloud computing and video-conferencing, all of which can be accessed via laptops, smartphones and tablets), flexible working can work extremely well for many businesses with minimal, if any, disruption.

The key to making it work all round is to have a clear flexible working policy in place which covers the types of flexible working available, how requests will be considered, the potential reasons for refusing a request and informal flexible working requests that fall outside the system. Just ensure that as an employer, you process all requests in a reasonable manner and provide a timely decision.

Once your flexible working policy has been implemented, ensure that you then update each employee’s employment contract, if necessary, to formalise any changes to their individual terms of employment.

Getting your business up to date with new legislation or creating policies for the first time if you’re a new business needn’t be expensive or time-consuming. If you take advantage of the one-week free trial from Rocket Lawyer, you can create all the above policies for free in less than 10 minutes each, and you can even consult an On Call lawyer for additional advice if needed.