From 6 April 2009 there are to be some quite significant changes to the statutory availability of flexible working about which employers should be aware.
Currently, employees have a statutory right to request flexible working where they have worked for their employer for more than 26 continuous weeks. However to claim this statutory right they must be responsible for a child under six years old (or under eighteen if the child is disabled). Alternatively an employee who is a carer for an adult (usually a spouse or partner) who lives at the same address also has a statutory right to request flexible working.
With effect from 6 April 2009 the age limit increases to those caring for children aged sixteen or under.
Employees should be aware that although employees have a statutory right to request flexible working hours, this request can be refused if there are valid reasons.
Any employee (even those who do not meet the criteria above) can request flexible working although they have no legal right to do so.