Changes to flexible working requests
- AuthorMartin Cornforth
Due to changing work practices during the pandemic, the Government's Flexible Working Taskforce recommended that flexible working should be the default position for all workers post-pandemic.
On 20 July 2023, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill received Royal Assent. The Government expects the key measures to come into force approximately a year after Royal Assent, to give employers time to prepare for the changes.
The key provisions include:
- An employee will no longer have to explain what effect the employee thinks their requested change would have on the employer and how it might be dealt with.
- An employee will be entitled to make two requests for flexible working in any 12-month period. However, it will not be possible to make a further application while another application to the same employer is already proceeding.
- An employer will not be permitted to refuse a request unless the employee has been consulted.
- The time for an employer to decide on the outcome will be reduced to two months (although the parties could still agree a longer period).
Although a right to request flexible working from day one of employment is not covered by the Act, Government statements suggest this will be introduced by secondary legislation. During the pandemic the CIPD called for flexible working to be a "day one" right for employees.
The measures in the Act will be supported by a statutory Code of Practice. This Code is currently under consultation. The closing date for responses is 6 September 2023. The consultation document and questions are available on the Acas website along with a response form: www.acas.org.uk/flexible-working-code-consultation
A Flexible Working policy helps to manage such requests by providing the employee and employer with a predictable procedure.