The government is consulting on giving the right to request (but not demand) flexible working to parents of older children. Although the measure is not yet in force, it would in due course, affect about 4.5m employees.
Employment law is one of the fastest moving fields. Our employment specialists work hard to ensure they are fully up-to-date on the latest rules. This new change will affect many employers (and employees). It was only in 2003 that employees with children up to the age of six were given the right to request flexible working. In April 2007, this was extended to employees who care for adults such as elderly parents.
The new right would apply to parents of children up to the age of 16. It is important to stress that no one in the UK, however young their child, has a right to flexible working. For many jobs it is not practicable and it is perfectly lawful for the employer to turn the employee down. It is a bit of a myth amongst some workers that they have “rights” to work flexibly. However, it is wise to take legal advice before refusing a request, to ensure the correct procedures are followed. In addition, employees who are helped to manage their out of work commitments may be more likely to stay with an employer and many employers find they can accommodate requests of various kinds, whether under the existing legislation or simply so that an employee can pursue a particular hobby or charitable work activity. It is always wise to ensure all arrangements are set out in writing and signed by employer and employee, and we can advise on appropriate wording to use for his purpose.
For further information contact Graeme Bellenger on 020 7024 8057.