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Acas publishes consultation responses & new draft Code and guidance on flexible working

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Workplace expert Acas has today published the responses to its consultation on a new Code of Practice and guidance on flexible working.

Later this year, all employees who have worked for their employer for 26 weeks or more will have the right to ask if they can work flexibly. The consultation asked employers for their views on the draft Code and good practice guidance to help manage flexible working requests.

A new revised draft Code of Practice (available below) and draft good practice guide on pdf  The right to request flexible working: an Acas guide [177kb] has been published today to help employers prepare for the forthcoming changes in the law.

Anne Sharp, Acas Chief Executive, said:

"We have published our new draft Code and practical guidance now to help employers prepare for the changes ahead on handling flexible working requests in a reasonable manner.

"Many employers recognise that offering a flexible approach to working patterns helps attract and retain talented people and supports business success."

Acas guidance published today picks up on a number of issues raised by consultees including factors to consider when examining requests and includes advice on:

  • making a request to work flexibly
  • handling such requests fairly
  • avoiding discrimination
  • dealing with appeals.

The right to request flexible working is one of a series of measures in the Children and Families Bill. This also includes how the system of shared parental leave will work which will come into force in 2015.

Notes to Editors

  1. The amended draft Code of Practice on the right to request flexible working published today enables employers to prepare for the statutory code which will subject to a parliamentary process later this year.
  2. Acas was asked to draft the Code to help businesses manage this new right to request flexible working by Government in November 2012. The Code of Practice forms part of the Children and Families Bill 2013 which is anticipated will come into effect in April 2014 - BIS press release - Mums and dads will share parental leave.
  3. Acas received 56 responses to the consultation on the Draft Code of Practice on the extended right to request flexible working; 24 employers, 5 trade unions, 18 intermediary and representative bodies and 1 anonymous organisation.
  4. The consultation ran for 12 weeks from 25 February 2013 to 20 May 2013 and is available to download pdf  Acas response to the consultation on the Code of Practice for handling requests to work flexibly in a reasonable manner [80kb]:
  5. Acas has made a number of changes to the Code following the consultation including:
    • Additional detail in paragraph 3 of the Code on the information required to make a flexible working request.
    • Removing the term "presumptions of approval" which some respondents felt was misleading in applicants believing their approval was almost certain, but emphasising the importance of careful examination of requests and the fact that they can be rejected only on the basis set out in legislation/justifiable reasons for rejection.
    • Respondents identified six common themes which they would like to see in the accompanying good practice guidance:
      • how to handle multiple requests, prioritisation issues and being fair
      • avoiding discrimination in deciding a request
      • providing an explanation of the business reasons that are to be considered in requests - what do they mean, with examples
      • refusing a request and giving how much information to divulge
      • appeals against refusal and guidance on managing this process
      • how to use trial periods and reviews after agreeing a change to check out if a flexible working request is feasible.
  6. Acas' aim is to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. It provides information, advice, training and a range of services working with employers and employees to prevent or resolve problems and improve performance. It is an independent statutory body governed by a Council consisting of the Acas Chair and members from business, trade unions, academia and the law.
  7. For media queries on shared parental leave please contact the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) press office on 020 7215 5363.
  8. To arrange an interview with Head of Equality Services, Steve Williams or for other media enquires please contact Acas Press Office on 020 7210 3688/3920. For out of hours media enquiries call 020 7210 3600.