As readers will know, the Employment Act 2002 gives employees with children under six a right to request flexible working. The employer is under no duty to accede - but must consider the request, hold a meeting with the employee if it intends to refuse, and put its reasons for refusal in writing.
The Regulations 'flesh out' the statutory framework. They provide:
• when an employer agrees to flexible working (known as a 'contract variation'), it must provide a written note of the contract variation agreed to and the date on which it is due to take effect;
• if the employer does not intend to accede to the contract variation, it must hold the meeting with the employee within 28 days of receiving the request;
• when a meeting is held, the result (and, if appropriate, reasons for refusal) must be given in writing within 14 days of the meeting;
• an employee has a right of appeal from an employer's refusal. The Regulations set out the procedure for appealing;
• the employee has the right to be accompanied at any meeting. Breach of this provision results in a compensation payment of up to two weeks' pay (limited to, currently, £250pw).
The Regulations can be seen at http://www.dti.gov.uk/er/flexdraftregs.pdf (Adobe Acrobat required).