The draft of the Flexible Working (Eligibility, Complaints and Remedies) Regulations 2003 have been published.
These are in addition to the Flexible Working (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2003, which were summarised in the bulletin of 25th November 2002 (reproduced at the foot of this bulletin).
The new Regulations provide:
• a request for flexible working can only be made if the employee has been continuously employed for six months;
• a penalty if the employer fails to hold a meeting with the employee, or fails to notify the employee of his decision, of up to eight weeks' pay. The explanatory notes make it clear that the statutory cap on a week's pay applies (which, when the Regulations come into force in April 2003, will be £260 per week.
Note that there is no enforcement mechanism where the employer has unreasonably refused a request to work part-time, or where the reason given is not one of the prescribed reasons in (the new) section 80G of the Employment Rights Act 1996, although s80H of the Act does give the Secretary of State a broad power to impose penalties in this regard. So, provided employers hold a meeting and notify the employee in writing of a refusal, employers can still get away with paying lip-service only to the flexible working provisions.