UK’s flexible working bill set to improve work arrangements

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The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, set to become law in the UK on April 6, 2024, will bring about significant changes to employees’ rights to request flexible working arrangements, as reported by Personnel Today.


The new legislation will amend The Flexible Working Regulations 2014 by eliminating the requirement for employees to have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks before making a flexible working request. 


Consequently, the right to request flexible working will be accessible from the first day of employment.


The act received Royal Assent in July 2023 and will be applicable across England, Scotland, and Wales.


Key Highlights of the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023:

  • Under the new legislation, employees will be permitted to submit two flexible working requests within a 12-month period, deviating from the current allowance of one request. 
  • Additionally, employers will have a reduced timeframe of two months, extendable with employee agreement, to process these requests, as opposed to the current three-month limit.
  • Employers will be obligated to engage in consultation with employees prior to rejecting a request. 
  • Moreover, the new legislation will eliminate the requirement for employees to provide explanations or justifications regarding the impact of the proposed changes to their working arrangements.
  • Employers may be able to refuse to alter current work setups with valid business reasons, including impacts on quality, staffing challenges, equipment shortages, customer service issues, or added costs.


Additional Information:

  • The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has prepared a new code of practice outlining how employers should handle flexible working requests post-implementation of the legislative changes, although this is still undergoing consultation. 
  • The new code will come into effect concurrently with the legislation in April and highlights that employers are encouraged to accept flexible working requests unless there are valid grounds for rejection.
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