Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has launched a consultation on a draft Code of Practice on the extended right to request flexible working.
Under the UK Government's proposals, announced in November last year, the right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees who have worked for their employer for 26 weeks or more. Employers are obliged to consider all requests in a reasonable manner.
The current statutory procedure will be repealed and the Government has asked Acas to produce a Code of Practice to help businesses manage this new extended right.
Acas is seeking views from employees and employers, particularly small businesses who often don't have HR support and may face challenges in managing flexible working requests.
The draft Code is designed to offer short, practical advice to make it as easy as possible for employers to handle requests and fit them to their specific circumstances and procedures.
Chair of Acas Ed Sweeney said:
"This draft Code builds on our knowledge and expertise across all workplace issues. It will make it easier for employers to be fair in considering requests to work flexibly which helps to maintain good working relationships and minimise discrimination.
"We're very keen to hear views on the draft Code from anyone who has an interest in flexible working."
Acas will also produce a non statutory good practice guide with practical examples of managing flexible working requests in the workplace. This will be published alongside the final Code.
In producing the Code Acas has sought advice from employer representatives, unions and charities.
Sarah Jackson, Chief Executive of Working Families said:
"Working Families warmly welcomes the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees as good for business and good for families.
"We are pleased to see a consultation on a Code of Practice to guide employers on what it means to deal reasonably with a request from an employee for a different working pattern.
"We also look forward to further and more detailed guidance from Acas to give employers confidence in responding positively to requests and changing workplace cultures for the better."