Employers in Dorset must ensure their staff managers deal properly with a new right to request flexible hours, specialist lawyers have warned.
From 30 June 2014, every employee with more than six months’ service can now expect a request for flexible working to be considered ‘reasonably’ by their company.
It is believed this wider right will enable a further 20 million workers nationally to apply to work flexibly, including more than 300,000 people in companies and organisations across Dorset and Somerset.
Battens Solicitors, which has offices in Dorchester, Weymouth and Sherborne, said it is essential that employers make sure their policies are up to date.
Dawn Gallie, head of Battens’ employment team, said: “As with all employment law, process is the key.
“Managers need to know that from now anyone with 26 weeks’ service can apply for flexible hours.
“They have to put their application in writing, setting out their request and the effect, positive or negative, they believe it will have on the employer.
“If it is going to be detrimental, they have to say how the impact can be alleviated. A meeting to discuss the request is an integral part of the process.
“The employer has to be aware that if they refuse an application without good reason, the employee can make a claim to the Employment Tribunal.”
The new right is an extension of existing laws that previously applied only to those with children or carer responsibilities.
It has been made available to all employees because of greater diversity in the workplace, changing needs among families and a desire to help those workers who wish to take time out to study, go part-time or pursue additional training, for example.
Ms Gallie, a member of the Employment Lawyers Association, said the changes offered opportunities for employers aside from the need for process management.
She said: “If you can be flexible and accommodate requests, you stand a much better chance of retaining talent and fostering good workforce morale.”
Battens is a Legal 500 firm with offices in Yeovil, Dorchester, Weymouth and Sherborne.
As well as legal advice and representation, the firm has a dedicated service called BattensHR providing fixed-fee human resources and employment advice. It includes a staff handbook and a telephone advice line.
For advice on all employment and HR matters and for updates on employment law changes contact Dawn Gallie at Battens Solicitors on 01305 250560 or firstname.lastname@example.org