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Flexible Working Arrangements for All? Small Business Exemption in Jeopardy

Flexible Working for all? 

Small businesses may not be exempt under new Government proposals. The Government is proposing extending the right to amend their working hours because of their circumstances to all employees– not just those with children.

Currently, only those employees who care for children, or who have responsibility for an adult who lives with them, can apply for flexible working.
The alternatives to working full-time include:
• flexi time: choosing when to work, subject to core hours;
• annualised hours: hours are worked out over a year
• compressed hours: working agreed hours over fewer days
• staggered hours: different starting, break and finishing times for employees in the same workplace
• job sharing: sharing a job designed for one person with someone else
• homeworking: working from home
• part-time: working less than the normal hours, perhaps by working fewer days per week
In line with the current situation, it’s only a right for those who have been an employee for six months.  The employer would still have the right to refuse the request due to “business grounds” – but the rules are to be tightened up. A Code of Practice is being considered, and the duty would be on the employer to show that the request was considered in a reasonable manner. Failure to do so could leave the employer open to challenge in an Employment Tribunal.
Currently, employees may make only one request for flexible working in any 12-month period. The Government consultation seeks views on allowing an additional request within 12 months if the employee’s original request states it is only expected to be a temporary arrangement.
Last year, the Government announced a moratorium on new employment regulations for ‘micro-businesses” and start-up businesses – but the consultation asks whether they should continue to be exempt. The rules would apply to small businesses.
The Glasgow Law Practice advises a number of small businesses on changes in the law, such as the new rules on paternity which came into effect last month. The consultation, entitled “Modern Workplaces”, also seeks views on changes to the current rules on maternity. If you are an employer who needs advice on flexible working arrangements or other employment law matters then please contact us on {{CONTACT_NUMBER_CONTENT}} . We also provide advice to employees.