Flexible working and Settlement Agreements

Settlement agreement disputes can arise from an initial difference in respect of flexible working.

It is a common myth that employees can only make a flexible working request if they have children. This is NOT the case.

An eligible employee has the right to make a request to work flexibly which the employer has a duty to consider. It is important to understand that there is no right to work flexibly, just a right to make a ‘request’ to work flexibly. An employee is eligible to make a request if they are employed, have at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment at the date that they make their request, are not an agency worker or a member of the armed forces and have not made another request in the past twelve months.

Currently, an eligible employee can make a request to work flexibly in relation to:

   

  • A child under 17 (or under 18 if they are disabled) so long as they:

  •    

    • are the child’s mother, father, adoptive parent, guardian or foster parent;

    • are the spouse, civil partner or partner of the child’s mother, father, adopter, guardian or foster parent;

    • have or expect to have responsibility for the child’s upbringing;

    • are making the application in order to care for that child

  • A person over the age of 18 who is in need of care and who is:

  •    

    • Married to, or the civil partner or partner of the employee;

    • A relative of the employee; or

    • Lives at the same address as the employee.

An eligible employee can request:

   

  • a change to the hours they work;

  • a change to the times when they are required to work; or

  • to work from a different location, e.g. to work from home.

  • Historically it was true that only carers of children under the age of six qualified for the right to make a request which may explain the confusion. However the right was quickly extended to those who cared for adults also. Subsequent to this the right was provided to employees who cared for children up until the age of 16.

    Most recently the coalition government published their Consultation on Modern Workplaces. This led to the Children and Families Bill which is expected to come into force on 6 April 2014. In relation to the right to request flexible working, the Bill will remove the requirement that an employee must be a parent or carer to make a request.

    Many workplace disputes arise from a flexible working request that has been made by an employee or refused by and employer. If you have any queries in relation to your rights, or you have been offered a Settlement Agreement following making a request for flexible working please do contact a member of the team who would be delighted to speak with you about it free of charge.

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