flexible working

Dismissed pregnant woman loses European court case

Following a claim by a pregnant woman who was made redundant by Spain’s Bankia, the ECJ has ruled that the dismissal was lawful.

 

What do you need to know

Whilst the dismissal of a pregnant worker is prohibited under the EU Directive 92/85, and covers the time between conception and the end of maternity leave, there are some exceptions.

If a pregnant worker is dismissed, but the reason for the dismissal is not connected to pregnancy, then the move does not infringe upon EU law.

Under EU law, an employer must state in writing the reason for their decision to make a collective redundancy.

They must then inform the pregnant worker of the criteria used to decided who will lose their jobs.

In this case, the dismissed pregnant worker was informed that she had been given a low score in a company assessment.

 

Lessons learned

The case is not just a reminder of the rights of pregnant workers, but also the importance of documentation.

If you’ve got to make a group of employees redundant, then you need to be clear about the basis for which you are choosing who stays and who goes.

On top of this, you need to be clear with pregnant workers, by communicating with them personally and in writing, that the reason for their redundancy is not based upon their pregnancy. Any ambiguity could be potentially harmful in the long run, so document everything well.

For plain-English, expert advice on any of the above, you can contact Alison here.

Please follow and like us:

Lessons to be learned from Uber and Deliveroo

Last November we updated you on the EAT’s ruling that Uber drivers should be classified as ‘workers’ and not self-employed. Now one of the most high-profile cases regarding the ‘gig economy,’ most employers will be familiar with the case. You can read the full judgement here.

Essentially, two Uber drivers brought a claim to the Employment Tribunal for unlawful deduction from wages, as well as a failure to provide paid leave. The drivers won the case, successfully persuading the Employment Tribunal that they were workers, and as such were protected under the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA). Uber, however, continued to argue that the drivers were in fact self-employed, and so the protections of the ERA did not apply to them.

Whilst Uber appealed this decision to the EAT (unsurprisingly, given the potential costs to Uber that the ruling could incur), the EAT upheld the Tribunal decision and found that the drivers are workers. This means that Uber drivers, as well as being entitled to the minimum wage and paid annual leave, can also raise claims for unlawful deduction of wages.

It’s a good idea to pause and consider the arguments that Uber put forward, which the EAT subsequently dismissed. Uber argued that:

  • It only provides the technology platform to facilitate a taxi service, rather than providing a taxi service itself;
  • The taxi service is, instead, provided by the driver and there is a contract between driver and passenger for each journey;
  • The drivers are self-employed;
  • Uber London Limited holds the required private hire vehicle operator licence.

But the EAT backed the Tribunal’s original decision, stating that this arrangement was indicative of worker status. It claimed that:

  • There is an interview process for potential Uber drivers and successful candidates must complete an induction;
  • A driver can be terminated in the case of serious misconduct or if their ratings drop;
  • Whilst drivers might be able to decide where they can work, they are required to undertake to the work personally for Uber, which indicated an employment relationship.

Whist the Tribunal held that Uber drivers are not obliged to turn on the Uber application or accept an assignment, a driver is working for Uber under a worker contract if:

  • Has the application turned on;
  • Is within their authorised territory for work;
  • Is able and willing to accept assignments.

This means that they should be afforded worker rights and protections in accordance with the ERA.

But it isn’t all bad news for the flexible workforce, or those that want one. It’s certainly not impossible for companies to enter into a genuine contract of self-employment, but employers must remember how this operates in practice. It doesn’t matter what label either party may put on their relationship, if the legal definition with ‘worker’ is met then the party providing the service is likely to benefit from worker rights.

The outcome of the Uber case is similar to that of Deliveroo, which received a judgement on their case last November. Deliveroo is another app-based service, with riders delivering takeaway food to customers from participating restaurants. Unlike the Uber case, however, Deliveroo riders were not found to be workers by the Central Arbitration Committee (the CAC) after the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain submitted an application.

The CAC made a decision on the basis of section 296 of TULRCA, whereas in the Uber case, the definition of a “worker” is set out in section 230 of the Employment Rights Act. The interpretation of the Employment Rights Act is outside the jurisdiction of the CAC, and so its comments would not be binding on an employment tribunal here. In the Deliveroo case, on there was evidence that riders took advantage of their right of substitution and sent another rider on a delivery in their place.

This goes to show that, whilst genuine self-employment is possible, it needs thought out, particularly in the current climate, if you’re to avoid a costly dispute.

For more expert HR advice, you can contact Alison here.

 

Please follow and like us:

EAT rules that Uber drivers are workers

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has upheld a tribunal’s ruling that two Uber drivers were ‘workers’ and, therefore, entitled to worker benefits such as the National Minimum Wage and holiday pay.

The background

In UK law, ‘workers’ are entitled to a range of employment rights such as the national minimum wage, holiday pay and access to a pension scheme. Full employment rights, however, including statutory sick pay and protection against unfair dismissal, only apply to a category of workers normally referred to as ‘employees’.

For a non-employee to qualify as a ‘worker’ status there usually has to be a contract between the individual and the ‘employer,’ under which the individual undertakes to do work personally, and the ‘employer’ must not be a client or customer of a business operated by the individual.

How does this apply to Uber?

In this particular case, the EAT found that those conditions were satisfied. In particular, it found that the tribunal was entitled to reject the description of the relationship between Uber and the drivers in the written contractual documentation. Rather, the drivers were incorporated into Uber’s taxi business and subject to controls that pointed away from their working in business on their own account in a direct contractual relationship with the passenger each time they accepted a trip. The EAT confirmed that the tribunal had been entitled to consider the true agreement between the parties as not one in which Uber acted as the drivers’ agent.

But the EAT’s decision is unlikely to be the final one. It’s certain that Uber will look to bring a further appeal and it is likely that the case could go straight to the Supreme Court.

What can we learn from this?

The fact that the Uber drivers have won ‘worker’ status, however, does not mean that cases brought by others who work in the ‘gig economy’ will have the same success. In fact, the tribunal that originally heard the case said it did not doubt that Uber could have created a business model which did not involve the drivers having worker status. However, companies that rely on the ‘on demand’ freelance workforce will be keeping an eye on similar cases for any emerging trends that could impact their business model.

Particularly, these employers should review any possible risks of misclassifying the status of their workforce, including the affordability and practicability of paying statutory minimum wage, pension auto-enrolment and holiday pay entitlements.

Additionally, those businesses utilising IT platforms to exercise significant control over ‘on demand’ workers should be aware of the potential challenge in maintaining that such workers are genuinely self-employed, as opposed to one based on worker status (although it will always depend on the circumstances).

For more expert employment advice, you can contact Alison here.

Please follow and like us:

Pensions update: Was a disabled employee treated unfavourably?

In Williams v The Trustees of Swansea University Pension & Assurance Scheme and another the Court of Appeal stated that a disabled employee was not treated unfavourably (and therefore discriminated against) when his enhanced pension on ill-health retirement was based on the salary he earned when working part time due to his disability, rather than his full time salary.

Background

Mr Williams, the employee, suffered from Tourette’s syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. Before eventually taking ill-health retirement (at 38) he reduced his hours with his employer, Swansea University, in order to better cope with his condition and his pay was reduced accordingly.

Mr Williams was allowed, by the University, to take his accrued pension benefits immediately and without any actuarial reduction for early receipt, rather than having to wait until his normal pension date nearly twenty-nine years later. This meant he was treated as though he had accrued nearly twenty nine years further pensionable service and his benefits were advanced.

Mr Williams brought a disability discrimination claim at the Tribunal under s 15 of the Equality Act 2010. Mr Williams argued that, by using his actual part time salary rather than a full time equivalent, the calculation of the enhancement to his benefits amounted to “unfavourable” treatment and therefore unlawful discrimination.

In the initial hearing the Tribunal upheld his claim. The University then successfully appealed to the EAT. Following this Mr Williams appealed to the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal agreed with the EAT because:

  • under the pension scheme rules the only employees entitled to retire early and to receive an enhanced pension were those who retired through ill-health and who were necessarily disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010;
  • Mr Williams had been treated advantageously in comparison to non-disabled colleagues and there is no authority for the proposition that a disability discrimination claim can succeed simply because an individual thinks he should have been treated better;
  • that Mr Williams was working part-time hours because of his disability could not be enough to require the employer to justify the treatment; and
  • there is no authority for the proposition that a disabled person who is treated advantageously because of their disability, but not as advantageously as a person with a different disability, has a valid claim that they have been treated “unfavourably”.

This decision confirms that, even if it could have been more advantageous, treatment that is advantageous does not amount to unfavourable treatment.

Please follow and like us:

Update – Parental Bereavement Leave

On 19 July 2017 the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill was introduced to Parliament. The Bill is expected to have a second reading in October with the hope that it will become law in 2018.

Summary

  • This aims to establish a new right for employed parents to paid leave to grieve on the death of their child.
  • It is likely that the amount of leave will be at least two weeks and attract the same rate of pay as other types of family leave such as maternity, adoption paternity and shared parental leave. This is currently the lower of 90% of an employee’s gross weekly earnings and £140.98 per week.
  • At present (except in relation to stillbirth or miscarriages in respect of which maternity or paternity leave may still apply), the law only allows for “reasonable” unpaid time off to deal with an emergency relating to dependants, including his or her death, and it is down to each employer to determine what is ”reasonable” in the circumstances.

ACAS has published a good practice guide on Dealing with Bereavement in the Workplace (available here).

Please follow and like us:

Holiday Pay & Voluntary Overtime

Back in September 2016 the case of Brettle v Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council decided that voluntary overtime payments should be included in calculating holiday pay, provided that overtime is worked with “sufficient regularity” to constitute “normal pay”.

In July 2017, the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld this decision and set out that payments for normally worked, voluntary, overtime must be included when calculating holiday pay for the first four weeks of holiday.  The case that upheld this was Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council v Willetts and Others, available here.

In this case the EAT explained that, given holiday pay needs to correspond with “normal remuneration”, any voluntary overtime payments that are paid over a sufficient period of time on a regular basis fall within this definition.

This did leave some questions open, however.  For example, the EAT offered little guidance on the level of regularity or frequency required for a payment to qualify as “normal remuneration”.  We can only ‘watch this space’ but we’ll post a longer summary in a few weeks… so watch this space.

Please follow and like us:

The Supreme Court has ruled that employment tribunal fees are unlawful

The government suffered a heavy defeat on 26th July after the Supreme Court ruled that employment tribunal fees are unlawful and the government will now have to repay up to £32m to claimants, relating to claims dating back to April 2013.

Brought forward by the Unison union Lord Reed, the judgment said that the fees were unlawful because of their effects on access to justice. Introduced in 2013 and costing between £390 and £1200, the fees have been said to prevent access to justice for workers unable to fund their case.

“The making of the Fees Order was not a lawful exercise of those powers, because the prescribed fees interfere unjustifiably with the right of access to justice under both the common law and EU law, frustrate the operation of Parliamentary legislation granting employment rights, and discriminate unlawfully against women and other protected groups.”

While the fees were brought in by the government to reduce the number of malicious and weak cases, after 3 years there had been a 79% reduction in cases brought forward.

Discrimination cases cost more for claimants because of the complexity and time hearings took. The Supreme Court found this was indirectly discriminatory because a higher proportion of women would bring discrimination cases.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis has said: “This is absolutely a tremendous victory, it’s probably the biggest victory of employment rights in this country.”

So what now?

In order to deal with this massive backlog of repayment and claims the Presidents of the Employment Tribunals have issued Case Management Orders.

The Order states that all cases and applications arising from the Unison case, or applications for reimbursement of fees, shall be made in accordance with administrative arrangements to be announced by the Ministry of Justice and HMCTS shortly… We wait to see what happens next!

Please follow and like us:

Snow days – what happens when bad weather hits?

British weather is far from predictable and although the peak of our winter may be over, there are still rumours of snow on the horizon. So when the bad weather hits, what does that mean for the workplace? What should employers do if staff are unable to get into work because of extreme weather conditions?

Pay on bad weather days

If bad weather has stopped employees from coming into work, employers need to make a decision about payment. In principle, employers are within their rights to refuse to pay an employee who does not come to work because of the bad weather. In choosing not to come in, they are not fulfilling their contract, even though the situation is out of their control, and do not need to be paid. For many employers, however, the benefits of paying someone for a ‘snow day’ outweigh the cons. Although they are paying an employee for a day they are not working, the long term affect this has for staff morale and their reputation as a good employer is often much better for business.

An alternative is to offer the employee who is unable to come into work the day of as annual leave. It is possible to ask employees if they would like to take extra holiday if they are unable to make it in. Some employees may rather take paid holiday for a snow day than to lose a day’s pay, but this won’t always be the case. Bear in mind if employers want to insist employees use holiday for a snow day, they must give them the minimum statutory notice.

Employees with children at schools that are closed

It is not uncommon for employees with children to be in a position where their child’s school or nursery is closed because of extreme weather. When this happens the employee is entitled to a reasonable period of unpaid time off for dependents. This right can apply when an unexpected disruption to the care arrangements for a dependant occurs, such as bad weather closing a school or nursery. Should an employee want to take advantage of this right, they must inform the employer as soon as possible. 

When the workplace closes

In some cases of extreme weather, it may be that the entire workplace has to close. When this happens, if employees are working from home, the employer must pay them their normal wages. If employees are unable to work before the employer has made the decision to close the premises, then this will in effect be a period of lay-off and employees should be paid their normal wage.

For more information, visit http://79.170.40.162/enlightenhr.com or contact Alison Benney:

alison@enlightenhr.com

Tel: 01803 469466

Please follow and like us:

Must you provide a stand-up workstation?

An employee has requested that you buy them a stand-up desk instead of a normal sit-down one. Are there any real benefits of stand-up desks, and are you legally required to fulfil this request?

Whilst stand-up desks have been around for quite some time, they’ve recently become trendier and it’s been claimed that there are numerous health benefits that come along with one. But while stand up desks may offer a healthier way of working, can an employee demand you purchase them one?

The ‘Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992’ says no. There is no legal requirement for you to provide stand up desks under any regulations. As long as the workstation has enough legroom for the employee, enough space for completion of tasks, space that allows movement and postural change and a low-glare work surface then you needn’t worry.

But are stand-up workspaces nothing more than a useless fad? Perhaps not. We know how sedentary an office job can make us – office employees spend at least five hours and 41 minutes at their desks per day, according to Loughborough University. Combined with at least seven hours of sleep per night and an evening that’s unlikely to result in a trip to the gym and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a variety of health problems, especially obesity.

Stand up work spaces can help combat a number of health issues. On average, a worker will burn an extra 50 calories per hour standing up than they would working sat down. And it doesn’t just tackle obesity. Sitting down for long periods of time decreases the body’s ability to regulate glucose, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. In some cases it can even increase the risks of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. Whilst it’s unlikely that having an office job is suddenly going to lead to a heart attack, it’s little things that add up over time that can really make a difference.

Research stand-up desks and consider the costs before making any decisions. Stand-up desks can range from anywhere between £200 and £1000, but some suppliers offer a lease policy that means desks can be rented from as little as £1 per day.

Alternatively, a portable posture stand costs around £50 and can be fitted on top of a normal desk, and can be used with both laptops and desktop computers. While this is not encouraged for long term use it may give you a good idea of how effective a stand up desk can be within the office, and can easily be transferred between different employees.

But, if at the end of the day you aren’t convinced then there’s no need to fret. Remember that you are not under any legal obligation to provide stand-up work spaces for employees. The only time you would need to start considering one would be under the express recommendation of a GP, and it’s unlikely that this is going to happen.

For more advice on this or other HR matters please contact Alison.

Please follow and like us:

Compensation awarded for stress caused by rushed suspension

This case addresses the issue of stress and personal injury within the context of suspension from work and/or disciplinary proceedings. In this instance the claimant was employed by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) as the UK High Commissioner to Belize. He was withdrawn from his post and suspended, pending a disciplinary hearing, following allegations of sexual misconduct made against him. During this suspension and a lengthy disciplinary process (as a result of which the allegations were dismissed), the claimant became ill with depression. He never returned to work and eventually retired. At this point he brought

High Court proceedings against the FCO for compensation for personal injury, alleging that stress resulting from the unfair process had caused his depression.

The Court of Appeal supported the ruling by the High Court that the FCO owed the claimant a duty of “fair treatment”. They found that this duty was breached when the claimant was withdrawn from post and suspended without any inquiries into the allegations and without their having put the allegations to him. The Court said the FCO should have made “some preliminary investigation” and exercised “some critical judgement” of the allegations made before suspending the claimant.

However, the Court of Appeal ruled that the claimant’s psychiatric injury was not a reasonably foreseeable consequence of withdrawing him from post and suspending him. He was an apparently robust employee, with no history of any psychiatric ill health. Therefore, the court ruled that although the FCO’s neglect of it’s duty of care was in breach of the claimant’s contract the claimant was not entitled to compensation for the psychiatric injury that he had suffered.

What do you need to do as employers?

It is easy to view suspension as a neutral act and it is, indeed, common practice to respond to such allegations as these by suspending the employees concerned as soon as a complaint is made, quite irrespective of the likelihood of the complaint being established. However, recent court rulings show that a change is taking place, with a need to protect the employee (and act on the employer’s duty of care) holding greater importance).

The test for liability for personal injury is whether the injury suffered is a reasonably foreseeable result of the breach of the duty of care. Whilst this was not found to be the case with this particular claimant, it is likely that there will be a case where an illness such as this will be found to have legitimately flowed from an employer’s conduct of a disciplinary process. As a result employers should bear this in mind when considering how to handle suspension and disciplinary investigations.

For advice on this and other relevant matters please contact Alison.

Please follow and like us:

You don’t get something for nothing. Employee’s covenants are only enforceable if the employer has provided consideration for them.

A recent High Court case ruled that, if an existing employee agrees to new restrictive covenants, they must be provided with some benefit (e.g., a pay rise or bonus payment) as ‘consideration’ for the variation to their contract. In this instance the court refused to enforce covenants against a former employee because he had not received any consideration for agreeing to them.

The background

When the former employee began working for the family-run business, in 1980, he was not given a written contract of employment, so did not have any restrictive covenants. When the business was taken over in 2013, the new owners issued him with a written contract, containing restrictions on his right to join a competitive business and against him soliciting his employer’s customers; He signed his new contract.

After he had tendered his resignation, however, his employer became aware that he had been involved in the formation of a competing business, which he intended to work for. The employer applied for an injunction to hold him to the restrictions in his contract.

However, the former employee argued that he should not be bound by the restrictive covenants because there is no consideration. In short, he had not received anything in return for taking them on. The employer disagreed, stating that they were introduced as part of a package providing benefits to the employee, including a pay rise. They also argued that, given he continued in employment after he had signed the contract this too amounted to consideration.

However, despite the judge finding that the employee had indeed committed serious breaches of his implied obligation of good faith and fidelity to his employer (in setting up a competing business whilst still employed) these arguments failed. It was not made conditional of signing the contract that the employee would receive the pay rise and could not, therefore, be linked. The same applied to the bonus structure implemented in the new contract. Futhermore, many of the other ‘new’ benefits were already enjoyed by the employee prior to him signing the new contract. Finally, his staying in employment was not found relevant because he was not told his refusal to sign it would, or might, lead to dismissal. Therefore, the court found that there was no consideration and the restrictive covenants were unenforceable.

What do you need to do as employers?

Consideration can take the form of money, benefits or even a promise to do (or not to do) something. It’s important that employers don’t assume that issuing a new contract (even if it’s signed) means the employee is bound by it. Acceptance of a new contract, especially one containing enforceable covenants, must be expressly tied to new benefit for the employee.

For advice on this or related matters please contact Alison.

Please follow and like us:

Flexible working for all

As we wrote last month, there have been recent changes to flexible working legislation for all employers in the United Kingdom. These drastic changes have far reaching effects for all businesses and employers must make sure they are up to date with current requirements and procedures. The revised legislation now entitles all employees who have been employed for at least 26 weeks the right to request flexible working hours, not just parents and carers. In return, employers must be able to show that they have dealt with the request in a timely and reasonable manner.

New, detailed approaches to dealing with flexible working requests can be found in the ACAS Code and the Good Practice Guide. Following on from our article last month, we’ve set out, in more detail, the elements that remain the same and those that have changed.

Unchanged Elements

Employees still retain the right to make one request for flexible work per year which the employer can refuse based upon the eight business grounds. These are;

  • extra costs which will damage the business
  • the work can’t be reorganised among other staff
  • people can’t be recruited to do the work
  • flexible working will affect quality and performance
  • the business won’t be able to meet customer demand
  • there’s a lack of work to do during the proposed working times
  • the business is planning changes to the workforce

If the request results in an employment tribunal, it is likely that they will look at how the request was dealt with, not the employer’s grounds for refusal. The level of compensation awarded for an employer failing to comply still remains at 8 week’s pay, with a week’s pay capped at £464 per week. However, many employers now fear that they will face increased claims of discrimination which have unlimited compensation amounts.

Changes to Flexible Working Requests

The main areas that employers should consider updating in their flexible working policies are the procedures for dealing with claims and the timescales for processing each claim. New laws state that any request must be dealt with as soon as possible and within a three month timescale, including any appeal process. It is this time limit that employers must adhere to if they are to avoid tribunals.

In its revised code, ACAS advises employers to talk privately with an employee after receiving a written request for flexible working and then carefully consider the request before informing the employee of their decision in writing. ACAS also says that employees should have the option of being accompanied to any discussions regarding their flexible working request if they wish to.

Once an employer has made their decision, another discussion should take place with the employee to agree how and when the requested changes will be implemented or to allow an appeal. An appeal is not a requirement of the updated flexible working law; however it is the best way of showing that the request has been dealt with fairly and appropriately. If an appeal is requested following a refusal then this also needs to be done within the three month timescale. If an extension is needed, the employer should agree this extra time with the requesting employee first.

There are also changes to the way in which an employee should request flexible work. The employee’s application must;

  • State that the application has been made under statutory provisions.
  • Specify any changes that the employee is seeking and when they want these changes to take effect.
  • Explain what, if any, effect the employee thinks the changes will have upon the employer and how these could be dealt with.

The employee doesn’t have to explain why they are requesting these changes or give any reason for submitting their request. Following the submission of their written request, the employee must also attend both the initial meeting that is arranged to discuss this request and the second meeting after this. If the employee fails to attend without viable reason, the employer is able to treat the request as being withdrawn.

Again, ACAS advises employers to tread carefully and find out the exact reason for the employee missing both of these meetings before making a decision to treat the request as withdrawn. If the employer does decide to treat the flexible working request as withdrawn then they must notify the employee of this decision in writing.

Advice for best practice

  • Keep a paper trail of the entire flexible working request process and ensure that any changes to employment are recorded in writing.
  • Evaluate requests solely on the needs and purposes of the business, avoiding emotional or value based judgments.
  • Once a request has been agreed set out in writing exactly what is expected of the employee who will be working flexibly. For example, times that they should be in the workplace and how and when they should be contactable if working from outside the workplace.
  • Consider incorporating a trial period into the three month timescale of dealing with a request. This will allow both you as the employer and the employee to see the benefits and drawbacks of a flexible working request. It will also provide solid feedback for you to give to the employee if you do need to ultimately refuse their request.
  • Review existing procedures to ensure that they are fit for purpose in light of the changes to flexible working legislation and educate all parties that will be involved in dealing with requests about the changes.

With the changes allowing any employee to request flexible working, it is safe to assume that employers will receive a larger number of requests. Employers should work to create a comprehensive policy that is fair and equal but that also allows them to refuse requests when necessary.

A Flexible Working Policy if available for all enlightenHR clients via the members’ area of the website. All related policies (e.g. the Family Friendly Policy) have also been updated to reflect the changes.

If you are not already a client and would like to discuss what this change may mean for your business, please call Alison at enlightenHR on 01803 668518 or email alison@enlightenhr.com

Please follow and like us:

Right to request flexible working – take note from 30th June

In summary

As of 30th June 2014 all employees with 26 weeks’ service will have the right to request flexible working arrangements.  The procedures that employers need to follow when dealing with requests are also being relaxed on that date.

Although the formal requirements will be drastically reduced employers will still be subject to two key requirements: to deal with all requests “in a reasonable manner” and deal with all applications (including processing any appeal) within a three month period.

ACAS has published a code of practice and associated guidance.

Eight steps to getting it right

 

  1. You still need your old policy – The law may be changing on 30th June 2014 but the old rules still apply to requests made before that date. These should be handled under the old procedures.
  2. Explain things properly – The main change taking place on 30th June is that employees no longer need to have parental responsibility for young children or be a carer to request flexible working. When you’re writing your new policy you should explain both this and the fact that employees still need to have at least 26 weeks’ service, to qualify.
  3. Remind people of how to request flexible working – There are a number of key details that employees need to include in their flexible working request and this is a good opportunity to remind them. Ideally you should provide a form to make their lives (and yours) easier.
  4. Decide on time limits for dealing with flexible working requests – As an employer you can choose your own time limits as long as the whole process is completed within three months. Whilst the new rules are more flexible than the old you may simply want to keep the old rules (which included timescales for meetings and responses) in place, so everything is clear. Flexible working: what’s staying the same?
  5. Consider whether to continue to allow employees to be accompanied at meetings – Whilst it is no longer a legal requirement, it’s often a good idea for employees to be accompanied at a meeting to discuss their flexible working request.   If you can, consider whether to continue to allow this – particularly in the case of those with special needs, disabilities or where English is not their first language.
  6. Consider whether to continue to offer employees an appeal stage – Whilst you do not technically have to offer an appeal stage to employees requesting flexible working, after 30th June 2014, it is advisable, if possible. An appeal stage for requests that are turned down will help to demonstrate, if needed, that you handled things in a “reasonable manner” which is required under the new legislation.
  7. Make sure managers know about the changes – Line managers are often the first port of call in flexible working requests. It’s, therefore, important that they know about these changes and how to respond to requests, after 30th June 2014. You might want to circulate this article or engage in some training for the team.
  8. Make sure employees know about their new rights – The majority of employees will not be aware of these changes and it’s, therefore, important that you communicate fully to avoid confusion.

 

For advice on this or to review your Flexible Working Policy you can contact Alison directly via www.enlightenhr.com.

For our members of course, we are as ever making things easy and a new policy and all the documentation will be available in the members’ area of enlightenHR’s website next week.

If you’re not a member but would like to know more, contact Alison on 07967 221595 or email alison@enlightenhr.com

Please follow and like us:

Get our email updates

* = required field
Follow us on LinkedIn
Follow us on Twitter
+1 on Google+