Employee Matters

Flexible Working Requests by Employees

New flexible working regulations have come into force which significantly extends the ability to make such a request. Since 30th June 2014 any employee with more than 26 weeks' continuous service can make a request for flexible working, to a maximum of one request per year.

The request could be:

  • a change to the hours they work.
  • a change to the times they are required to work.
  • to work from home.

Employers do not have to agree to an employee working flexibly if there is a sound business reason for not granting the request. However, they must respond within three months and can only refuse on one of the following grounds:

  • the burden of additional costs 
  • an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff 
  • an inability to recruit additional staff 
  • a detrimental impact on quality 
  • a detrimental impact on performance 
  • detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand 
  • insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work 
  • planned structural changes to the business.

If an employer's reason doesn't fall into one of these areas, an employee could make a claim at an employment tribunal.

Right to Request Time off for Training - Guide for Employers

Since April 2011, all employees have the right to request time off for training or studying relevant to the business if they have more than 26 weeks' continuous service. Employers have to follow a right to request time off for training procedure and do not have to fund the training or pay the employee while they attend training courses. 

Right to Request Time off for Training Procedure

  • The right to request time off for training has a similar procedure to the right to request flexible working:-Employers must either accept or arrange a meeting with the employee making the request for time off for training within 28 days
  • The employee requesting time off for training can be accompanied to the meeting by another colleague or union representative;
  • The Employer must make the decision to accept or refuse the time off for training request within 14 days.  It is possible for employers to partially accept a request;
  • If the employer refuses the request, the employee has a right to appeal.

Grounds for Refusal of a Request for Time off for Training

Grounds for refusal may include:-

  • Training not relevant to business needs or not applicable to the role of the employee
  • Suitable training not available
  • Detrimental effect on the ability of employer to meet customer demand or provide quality customer service if training request is accommodated
  • Inability to reorganise or re-allocate work to colleagues or recruit temporary staff to accommodate training
  • Where the training is in conflict with a planned structural change.

TUPE Buying and Selling a Business

Whenever a business is bought or sold, the parties must comply with the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006, known as the TUPE Regulations.

Here are some of the major points if you are an employer buying a business.

  1. The new employer steps into the shoes of the previous employer. This means the new employer must take on the existing employees on their existing contracts of employment, as if their contracts of employment had originally been made with the new employer. Therefore, the employees' terms and conditions remain the same.
  2. The new employer cannot ask the previous employer to dismiss any employee before buying. Any employee dismissed (even by redundancy) because of the transfer of business may be automatically deemed to be unfairly dismissed. As you have purchased this business you have also potentially purchased the liability of these employees and you can, therefore, be deemed to be responsible for any compensation due to the affected employees.
  3. The new employer cannot change or dismiss an employee because of the transfer, even after you have bought the business, unless there is an economic, technical or organisational reason under the TUPE Regulations.
  4. The new employer may after the transfer need to consider harmonisation of contracts of employment. This is a complex area and we would strongly recommend that you take specialist legal advice when considering this action.

Here are some of the major points if you are selling a business:

  1. Employees must be consulted.
  2. Where employees are represented by a Trade Union recognised for collective bargaining purposes, an authorised official of that union must be informed and consulted.
  3. Where there is no Trade Union, the employer must inform and consult other employee representatives, who could be new representatives elected for the purpose. There are rules that apply where new representatives are specially elected for the purpose. It is strongly recommended that employers seek specialist legal advice to avoid potential employment tribunal claims.
  4. All employees should be consulted with and given adequate time for consultation.
  5. When employees transfer out of your business, you must give the new employer certain information about those employees. Any failure to do so could result in the grounds for a claim.
  6. The employer must tell any employees affected by a TUPE transfer:-
  • that the transfer is to take place,
  • when it is to take place,
  • the reasons for it,
  • the legal, economic and social implications of the transfer,
  • any measures the employer or the vendor envisage taking in relation to the affected employee.

Managing Problem Employees: