Insights

Nighat Sahi

Published 4 September 2023
B0BEFAB3-7AF0-49F8-86B2-AD99CC6EC993
image

New Flexible Working Rules

On 20 July 2023, the Employment Relations (Flexible working) bill received Royal Assent from the House of Lords. It will give employees across the UK more flexibility over where and when they work, and it is expected to come into force in 2024. 

It’s part of the Government’s drive to deliver on its 2019 Manifesto commitment to encourage flexible working in a way that “supports participation and economic growth”. In a recent press release, the Government cited the benefits to workers, and businesses including research that companies that embrace flexible working can, “attract more talent, improve staff motivation and reduce staff turnover – boosting their business’s productivity and competitiveness.”.

The new rules  

The new provisions will include:

  • The right to request flexible working from day one of a new job. Under the current provisions, employees need to have been continuously employed for no less than 26 weeks at the date that the request is made.
  • The current requirement for an employee to explain the effect that they believe the arrangement might have on the business, and how to mitigate this will be removed.
  • There will be a new requirement for employers to consult with the employee before rejecting their flexible working request.
  • Employees will be able to make two statutory requests in any 12-month period rather than the current one request.
  • The employer will have to make a decision within two months of the request rather than the current three-month period.

What counts as flexible working?

Flexible working will be defined broadly to relate to working hours or patterns including part-time, term-time, flexi-time, compressed hours, or adjusting start and finish times. It will also include flexibility over where someone works, whether that be from home or a satellite office shortening their commute.

Consultations and Code of Practice

The Act will be supported by a statutory Code of Practice which is being developed by Acas and is currently under consultation (from 12 July 2023 to 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

The Government has also launched a call for evidence on non-statutory flexible working to improve on knowledge of the extent of flexibility in the labour market. You can find out more here:  https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/call-for-evidence-non-statutory-flexible-working

Working Families and the Taskforce have also developed new guidance for employers, with step-by-step instructions for designing and advertising flexible roles that work for businesses.

What you need to do now

If you are likely to be affected by these provisions, you need to start planning ahead. One of the first things you should do is either implement (if you haven’t already) or review and if necessary, revise your working policies, and remind employees of the procedure to be followed if an employee wishes to make a formal flexible working request.

If you would like any advice or assistance with any of the above, please contact us today.

The legal content provided by RSW Law Limited is for information purposes only and should not be relied on in any specific case without legal or other professional advice.

Copyright is owned by RSW Law Limited and all rights in such copyright are reserved. Material is not to be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written consent.