Employers fearing a flood of flexible working requests following today’s changes to the rules should take expert legal advice, warn employment law solicitors Coles Miller.
From today the right to request flexible working has been extended to virtually all employees.
This affects 20 million workers with employment status. Previously the right to request flexible working applied only to carers and people looking after children.
Coles Miller employment law solicitor Neil Andrews warned: “This is going to be a potentially significant administrative burden for employers.
“All requests will need to be considered and processed fairly and within the time limits,” she added.
An employer faced with a flexible time request will now have to make a number of predictions as to the future requirements of their workforce.
The new rights apply only to workers employed for six months or more. Also, employees can make only one request every 12 months. Employers have three months to decide.
It is hoped that these factors will help to deter less serious requests for flexible working hours.
Employers can decline a request for flexible working if:
- it would mean an unreasonable cost burden
- they were unable to reorganise the work among remaining staff
- they were unable to recruit extra staff
- it would have a detrimental impact on quality, performance or the ability to meet customer demand
- there was not sufficient work for the periods the employee proposed to work
- there were planned structural changes to the business.
Any employee wishing to challenge their employer’s refusal of flexible working hours can take their case to an employment tribunal.
But it could cost them at least £1,200 to do so - a £250 issue fee and a £950 hearing fee, warned Mr Andrews.
Dorset-based Coles Miller has one of the largest teams of commercial solicitors in the Bournemouth and Poole conurbation.
Their employment law work includes flexible working, TUPE, unfair dismissal, discrimination claims, restrictive covenants, health and safety, data protection and business reorganisations.
The commercial team can also assist with start-ups, mergers and acquisitions, partnerships, joint ventures, contracts, commercial property conveyancing, litigation and dispute resolution, debt recovery and marine law.
Coles Miller also acts for clients from all over the UK in cases involving interest rate swaps.
Coles Miller has 14 Partners and 115 staff based at five offices in Bournemouth, Poole, Broadstone, Charminster and Wimborne.
For further details, contact Coles Miller LLP on 01202 673011.