A delay in royal assent of the Children and Families Bill will push back the implementation of the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees.
The Children and Families Bill (‘the Bill’) contains provisions which will extend the statutory right to request flexible working to all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous employment, not just parents and carers as currently. It will also abolish the current statutory procedure for considering requests for flexible working, replacing it with a requirement to deal with applications in “a reasonable manner". See our earlier HR Briefing Government forges ahead with family law reform and shared parental leave.
The original date for implementation of the extended right to request flexible working was 6 April 2014. However, the Bill also includes provisions for other employment law reform, including the implementation of shared parental leave in 2015, (as well as other non-employment provisions relating to childcare and education issues). Given the complexity of the Bill it is taking longer to get through the parliamentary process than originally envisaged and the House of Commons has agreed a new target date for royal assent, 21 March 2014.
This revised date leaves insufficient time to implement the extension of the right to request flexible working by 6 April. BIS has confirmed that notwithstanding this delay, it will push for implementation of the flexible working provisions ‘as soon as possible’ after the Bill receives royal assent. We think it is likely therefore that the extended right to request may come in either in May or June this year, rather than waiting for the next common commencement date in October.
Take advantage of this delay and get ahead of the game by attending one of our National Family Rights Reform Seminars and ensure that your business is equipped to effectively manage flexible working, when the right to request becomes universal.