Government announces flexible working changes
Some changes are being made to the legal rules on flexible working under the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023. The Act is likely to come into force next year. The following changes are being made:
- Employees will now be able to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period (they are currently only able to make one).
- Requests have to be dealt-with by employers within 2 months of receipt of a request if no extension is agreed (a reduction from the current 3-month period).
- Employers are not able to refuse a request until they have ‘consulted’ with the employee (although there is no explanation of the level of ‘consultation’ required).
- Employees will no longer have to explain in their application what effect they think agreeing to the request would have on their employer and how any such effect might be dealt with.
Notably the changes do not make flexible working a Day 1 right. The government is still proposing to do this but says that it will use secondary legislation in order to do so. No draft legislation has yet been published. This means that, for now, employees still need to have 26 week’s service in order to be eligible to make a request.