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Proposals designed to increase workplace flexibility

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The government is considering introducing a duty on employers to consider whether a job can be performed flexibly, and to make that clear when advertising.

The potential introduction of further flexibility within the workplace is designed to support those who have out of work obligations that directly impact their working lives. Additionally, it is hoped that employers would have access to a larger pool of potential employees, whilst giving employees the opportunity to effectively balance their personal and working lives.

At present, an employee with 26 weeks continuous employment can make a formal flexible working request, unless they fall into the narrow prohibited category of exclusions (e.g. an employee in the armed forces, agency worker etc.). If making such a request, the whole process must take less than 3 months (including any appeal) and an employee is only entitled to make one request every 12 months.

Employers should deal with any requests in a reasonable manner but can still reject a flexible working request for one of a number of prescribed reasons. Employers should always, however, proceed carefully if rejecting, as they may otherwise find themselves facing claims for direct or indirect discrimination or even constructive dismissal.

If you would like to discuss flexible working or any matters raised above, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Employment Team.

This article is not a definitive statement of the law. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. It is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no liability or responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.