New flexible working regulations are set to come into force on the 30th June 2014, but many employers are still confused about their legal obligations.

From the end of next month the right to ask for flexible working will be extended to cover not just working parents, but all employees who have completed 26 weeks’ service with the company. Currently only employees with children under the age of 17, a disabled child under the age of 18, or certain carers, qualify for consideration.

Employees often mistake the ability to request flexible working with the right to actually attain flexible working conditions. Workplaces are currently allowed to refuse requests on business grounds and this will still be the case after the new legislation kicks in next month.

Other aspects of this legislation to note include the fact that employees will be able to make just one request per year for flexible working. If, as an employer, you have legitimate business reasons to do so, you may deny the request but it is still hazy as to what will qualify as “business grounds” for refusal to work flexibly under the new legislation.

Some other points to note include the fact that employees who have their working hours changed will have no right to go back to their previous working terms and conditions should they wish to in the future.

Employers may feel a sense of reluctance to advertise the new ability to request flexible working conditions to all staff members due to concerns they’ll be inundated with requests for 4 o’clock finishes and four-day working weeks. However it does give businesses the chance to educate team members on this field of workplace legislation, which may help to manage expectations when it comes to applications for flexible working.

The most important thing for companies right now is to ensure their policies and procedures are in place for when the change comes into force. You’ll need to update practices before 31st July 2014 so they come into line with the law.

For further details on HR policy in this field, talk to Triple Three Solutions.