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The right to request flexible working is changing!

In July 2023, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill received royal assent and became the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023. The Bill introduces some significant changes to current UK employment law from 6 April. This article summarises these changes and what they mean for employers.

Current position

Any employee who has worked in an organisation for 26 weeks or longer is entitled to make one formal flexible working request during any 12-month period. This includes requests for part-time, term-time, flexitime, compressed hours or homeworking. The employee must also explain what effect they think the change will make to the employer and how this could be dealt with.

The employer then has 3 months to consider the request before they either accept, reject or agree a variation of the application. Under the Employment Rights Act, employers are permitted to give one of the following reasons if they cannot agree to the request;

  • Burden of additional costs
  • Inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
  • Inability to recruit additional staff
  • Detrimental impact on quality
  • Detrimental impact on performance
  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • Insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
  • Planned structural changes

What are the changes?

Under the new regulations, employees will be entitled to make a statutory flexible working request from day one of employment, and will be able to make up to two requests per annum.

Furthermore, the employee will no longer have to explain the effect that the flexible working arrangement they’re requesting will have on the employer and how that effect might be dealt with, and the employer will be required to deal with the request within a period of 2 months rather than 3.

Employers also need to be aware that under the new rules they will have a duty to consult with employees before rejecting any request, and will have to explain the reasons behind their decision.

It is important that employers review policies and procedures and ensure managers are aware of the changes in this area. Effective flexible working arrangements are built on clarity, transparency and trust between the parties from the outset.

If you have any queries regarding the changes to flexible working, or would like advice regarding any other HR, Employment Law or Health & Safety and Wellbeing issue, please contact us on 01942 727 200 for a free no obligation chat or email