The government has adopted proposals of a report by the Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform which recommend the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees with parental responsibility for children up to the age of 16. It will be consulting on how best to implement the proposals which envisage implementation at one time, rather than a phased approach.
Currently, under the Employment Act 2002, employees with parental responsibility can request flexible working arrangements from their employer to care for a child under six years of age (or a disabled child under 18 ) or for a person over 18 who is the spouse civil partner or partner of the employee or a relative or who lives with the employee.
Perhaps oddly, the proposals leave a lacuna in respect of children under 18 who need care.
The employee has to have 26 week's continuous service with the employer (including associated employers) before making the request and the employer does not have to entertain a request if one has been made within the previous 12 months. However, employer's should be careful that any refusal would not amount to actionable discrimination.
For further information on flexible working please contact us.
You can review the BERR Report here: http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file46092.pdf
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