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Employment Alert - Changes to flexible working requests

people talking – Changes to flexible working requests

What’s happening?

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 has now received Royal Assent to become law.

Why is this Important?

The current regime for flexible working requests is changing:

  • Employees will be able to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period (instead of one).
  • Employees no longer need to include an explanation of the impact the change will likely have on the business and how it may be dealt with.
  • Employers must deal with a request within 2 months of receiving the request (instead of 3 months), subject to any agreement to extend.
  • Employers are required to consult with employees before they refuse a request.

The Government has previously indicated its intention to change the right to request flexible working to a day-1 right, meaning employees would no longer need to have 26-weeks’ continuous service before being able to make such a request. It has been confirmed that this will be introduced by secondary legislation when parliamentary time allows (there is no timescale for this yet).

What should you do?

You will need to update your current policies to ensure they mirror the new requirements once they become law and that you are complying with this in practice.

In particular, you should familiarise yourself with the updated deadlines for responding to flexible working requests and the requirement to consult with employees before a request is refused. There is currently no set minimum standard for what consultation should look like and so we suggest taking legal advice before refusing a request.   

We will confirm when the Act becomes law. This is expected to be next year to allow employers time to prepare for the changes.

If you would like to talk to our expert Employment team, please please call us on 0800 2800 421 or contact us using the form below.

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