News & Events

Flexible Working: 4 Key Changes and a Culture Shift

July 25, 2023

New flexible working rules have been given the go ahead. The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 finally has Royal Assent and is likely to come into force in 2024.

There are four key changes. What the new laws don’t do however is to make the right to request flexible working a day-1 right. Although this will come as a disappointment to many, some employers already allow an informal flexible working request from day-1 of employment.

The four key changes are:

  1. Employers must now consult with employees before declining a flexible working request. However, there is no definition in this legislation of what “consultation” means. In other contexts, such as redundancy, it means giving the individual being consulted a fair and proper opportunity to understand matters and to express views and considering those views properly and genuinely.
  2. Rather than being limited to making just one request for flexible working in any 12 month period the employee may in future make two formal requests in that timeframe. Although the ACAS Code of Practise on Flexible working recommends employers giving a right of appeal to an employee if their request is turned down, there is no right of appeal built into the new rules – perhaps because the employee will have the option of making a follow up second application. The ability to make two requests may assist those whose caring responsibilities for example, have changed soon after making their first request.
  3. Employers must respond to and administer the request process within a shorter timeframe of two months rather than three months. This enables employees to receive a decision more quickly and potentially help them to better plan any care arrangements.
  4. There will be no requirement for the employee to explain the anticipated impact of the request on the employer. This removes a requirement that was regarded by many as unduly burdensome on employees. The existing eight reasons an employer can refer to as reasons to reject the request remain in place.

Flexible working is popular among workers. Many employers and their workforces are benefitting by implementing flexible working which represents a strong cultural shift also supporting inclusion at work.

If you would like an updated flexible working policy or advice on implementing flexible working please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Contact an expert