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Parent power

The Employment Act 2002 introduced new employment legislation designed to help working parents, the right to request flexible work to facilitate childcare. However, many parents do not know how to make this request or how to challenge an employer’s decision to refuse flexible working.

The ‘right’ is a ‘right to request’, not a ‘right to flexible work’. The process is intended to introduce safeguards that will ensure the request is considered seriously, and that there will be no adverse impact on the employee for requesting it. I have noticed that employers often refuse such request for reasons that can be easily challenged.

Under the regulations, employees can request to

Any agreed changes will be considered to be permanent, unless otherwise agreed. The request for flexible working must be made on the correct form, this can be obtained from the Department of Trade and Industry.

A parent must meet the following criteria to be eligible to make a request under this right:

Be either:

Procedure

1). It is up to the individual worker to make an application to work flexibly. They need to make the case for doing this, specifying the type of flexible work that would be involved, and how it would not have an adverse impact on the business of the employer.

2). Within 28 days, the employer must arrange a meeting with the applicant to consider the application. The employee may be accompanied, but only by a colleague form the workplace.

3). Within 14 days, the employer must make a decision about whether to grant the application to work flexibly.

4). The application may be granted and implemented. If not the appeal process may come into play. The refusal must be based on valid business grounds including relevant and accurate facts related to:

5). If the employee is dissatisfied, he/she may appeal. The appeal should be in writing, stating why they believe the decision is wrong.

6). Within another 14 days the employer must arrange an appeal meeting. A decision must be made within 14 days.

7). In the event of a refusal, the employee may appeal through any of 3 routes:

So, parents do not have to feel frightened of making reasonable requests. Employers should realise that making changes that support their staff can only lead to a better working relationship with their employees that will ultimately have a positive impact on their business.

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