The current position is that only workers with children (or responsible for them) or those with caring responsibilities have the right to request to work flexibly. It is important to note that this is not a right to get the flexible working but merely a right to request it, as this is a common misconception. There are some service requirements and eligibility criteria currently in place.
This will change however for requests made after 30th June 2014. Workers, who have the required six month service, will be able to work flexibly without having children or caring responsibilities. This is the often referred to flexible working for all.
Flexible working involves a number of different arrangements which could be compressed hours, a change in location, job shares, reduced days or different hours. Really the possibilities are endless. Further changes are also on the horizon for next year where parental leave can be shared and parents can be off together.
Employers need to deal with flexible working requests reasonably and the prescribed way of dealing with requests is gone. ACAS have issued guidance but if in doubt employers should seek legal advice. Unreasonable refusal to grant a flexible working request could lead to a discrimination claim. Employers should consider their current handbooks and any flexible working policies and whether these should be updated after 30th June 2014.