Employees with children under the age of 17, disabled children aged under 18, or an adult in need of care may have the right to apply to work flexibly to enable them to care for the child or adult in need of care. Employers have a duty to consider such requests seriously.
In order to make a request the employee must either be the child’s mother, father, adopter, guardian or foster parent; or be married to or the civil partner or partner of the child’s mother, father, adopter, guardian or foster parent.
Alternatively, they must be a carer who cares, or expects to be caring for a spouse, partner, civil partner or relative or an adult in need of care who lives at the same address as the person being cared for.
The employee must have worked for the employer for at least 26 weeks before they can make a request to work flexibly. Employees are required to make any request in writing within a specified time frame. They must also include certain information in the written request for the request to be valid.
If eligible, the employee will be able to request a change to their hours of work, a change to the number of hours worked, or to work from a different location (for example, from home).
Considering the request: the statutory procedure
The employer must respond to the request by either agreeing to the request in writing, which will change the terms and conditions of employment permanently, or inviting the employee to a meeting to discuss the request further. The employee can request to take a companion to that meeting. A decision must be made and confirmed to the employee after that meeting. If the request is refused, the employee must be offered a right of appeal. It is crucial to note that each step must be taken within a specified time frame.
If you are an employer, it is a good idea to have a flexible working policy setting out the staged procedure and the relevant time frames, which should make the process more manageable.
Contact Ironmonger Curtis With Bell & Buxton Employment Solicitors for further information.