Right to request flexible working.
From 6 April 2014, the right to request a flexible working arrangement will be extended to all employees with 26 weeks’ service, not just those with caring responsibilities.
It is important for employers to consider now how to respond in terms of accommodating and/or dealing with requests for flexible working, once the right to request is extended. This will include adopting a flexible working policy. Also employers should check any current internal procedure against the new ACAS Code, and make any necessary amendments.
The statutory process will be abolished and replaced with informal guidance. The guidance includes six steps for employees (and job applicants) on what to ask if they think that they have been discriminated against under the Equality Act 2010. It also includes three steps for employers who receive such information requests on how they can respond appropriately.
Zero Hours Workers
Following months of media coverage, a formal consultation was launched in December 2013 into zero hour contracts, the extent of their use by employers and alleged abuses. The consultation closes on 13 March 2014 so watch this space!
Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 introduces Early Conciliation for all workplace disputes, with some very limited exceptions. The scheme is part of a package of employment law reforms introduced by the Government with the stated aim of reducing the burden on businesses. From 6 April 2014, anyone who wants to make an Employment Tribunal claim will need to contact ACAS first. ACAS will then take steps to resolve the dispute before a claim is submitted.
On the 6 April 2014, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 also provides the employment tribunals with the power to impose a financial penalty for employers who are found to have committed an aggravated breach of employment rights. Therefore there is potentially an additional financial penalty of up to £5,000 for an employer who has breached an employee’s rights in an unreasonable, negligent or malicious way.