Flexible Working Policy
This flexible working policy sets out a procedure for employees to exercise their statutory right to make a flexible working request, to ask for changes to their working arrangements (e.g. hours or place of work). This policy is suitable for a small to medium sized company.
What is a Flexible Working Policy?
A flexible working policy sets out a procedure for employees to exercise their statutory right to make a flexible working request. Only employees with 26 weeks’ service or more are permitted to make such a request under the statutory flexible working regime.
Why is a Flexible Working Policy important?
It is important that employees are aware of their right to request flexible working, and it is important that employees (and line managers) are aware of the procedure that will be followed if such a request is made.
Without a clear procedure in place, disputes about flexible working are more likely to arise, as well as allegations that there has been inconsistency of treatment between different employees.
A flexible working policy would normally be stated to be non-contractual. This means that an employer can make changes to the policy without the employee's agreement. It also means that, if an employer does not follow the procedure to the letter, it will not amount to a breach of contract, enabling the employee to bring a claim against the employer.
What are the common pitfalls of a Flexible Working Policy?
- Not having a Flexible Working Policy
Without a flexible working policy, employees and line managers will not be aware of the legal framework relating to flexible working requests, as well as the employer’s normal procedure that applies when a flexible working request is received, which may lead to disparity in treatment between staff and hence disputes.
- Having a contractual Flexible Working Policy
The employment contract contains the terms and conditions that govern an employee’s employment. Generally, changes cannot be made to it without the consent of both parties.
Normally an employer will want to make changes to its policies and procedures regularly, and in certain situations may not want to be tied to following them to the letter. For these reasons, it is usually advisable for the flexible working policy to be non-contractual, so that it does not form part of the employment contract and changes can be made. Otherwise, it will need to obtain staff agreement to any changes, however small.
The flexible working policy should therefore clearly state that it is not contractual i.e. that it does not form part of the employment contract.
Acas has also produced a code of practice for employers on how to handle flexible working requests, which employers should read, as well as an accompanying guide.
- Including too much legalese and detail
The best policies are clear, concise and easy to navigate and understand. Policies that are long, unwieldy and full of jargon are unlikely to be used or understood.
- Not keeping the Flexible Working Policy up to date
Employment law in the UK changes frequently. Using a PocketLaw template, and regularly reviewing the finished policy, ensures that an employer remains legally compliant when changes to the law happen.
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