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On 30 June 2014, the right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service, rather than just confined to those with children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled) and certain carers.
The statutory procedure for handling flexible working requests in the Employment Rights Act 19996 will be abolished on the basis that it is too rigid and bureaucratic. Employers instead will be required to handle requests in “a reasonable manner”.
To facilitate this, Acas has put together a brief statutory Code of Practice (currently in draft form) that is designed to assist employers on what it means to handle a request in a reasonable manner.
Whilst employers are likely to welcome the greater informality in regard to handling flexible working requests under the new regime, future problems would arise in regard to an employer’s management of competing flexible working requests i.e. dealing with one request for family reasons and the other on religious grounds.