From 1 September 2015, all employees in Jersey will be given a right to ask their employer for "flexible working" in certain circumstances.
The changes are being introduced alongside a package of other reforms under the general heading of "family friendly rights":
- Various enhanced rights for pregnant women, including rights to paid time off to attend ante-natal appointments, compulsory 2 week maternity leave at full pay immediately following childbirth and a right to take up to an additional 16 weeks' maternity leave (limited to 6 weeks for employees with less than 15 months' service);
- Parental leave for fathers or women other than a child's mother who expect to have parental responsibility for the child (2 weeks unpaid leave, with no minimum service requirement);
- Adoption leave – up to 18 weeks' unpaid leave for one parent (8 weeks only for employees with less than 15 months' service) and 2 weeks' unpaid leave for the other parent
- Protection against detriment or dismissal on the ground of the exercise of any of the above rights or the right to request flexible working.
The policy objective underlying all of this legilsation is to make it easier for working parents to juggle work commitments with family life.
It is also expected that the Discrimination (Jersey) Law 2014 will be extended to prohibit discirimination on the grounds of gender at the same time.
The right to request flexible working will come into effect as a new Part 3A of the Employment (Jersey) Law 2003.
The right itself is procedural rather than substantive – it is a right granted to an employee simply to request a contractual variation to that employee's terms of employment in one of three areas:
- The hours the employee is required to work;
- The times when the employee is required to work; or
- The place where the employee is required to work.
The statute sets out a prescribed process which the employer must follow in considering the employee's request, as shown in the diagram below.
The right is only available to employees with 15 months' service. Employees without the qualifying period of service, agency workers, self employed contractors and (probably) workers on zero-hours contracts will not be covered. Each employee may not make a subseqent request within 12 months of a previous request.
If the employer accedes to the employee's request, it must simply write to the employee within the relevant time limit, communicating its decision and informing the employee of the date from which the changes take effect.
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