The Government previously announced proposals to make changes to the Flexible Working Regulations. There was movement this week as the proposals have been passed in the House of Lords and are now awaiting Royal Assent – the final stage in the process.
So, what does this mean?
Essentially The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 aims to make it easier for employees to apply to work flexibly. It is intended to increase the flexibility of working arrangements to encourage individuals to enter the workplace and it is thought the Act will align with cultural changes that have been apparent post-covid.
Key changes to note:
• Currently an employee is limited to making one flexible working application a year, this will change to allow two applications in the year.
• Employers will be required to deal with the request within two months (unless an extension has been agreed).
• Employees will not have to explain how their requested change of hours will impact the business or department.
• Employers will have to consult with the Employee before they refuse a request, although further clarification is expected to be seen on this.
There were proposals to make it a “day 1” right but this is not going to be implemented with the changes, meaning that employees will still need to have 26 weeks of service before they submit a request. The Government have suggested that secondary legislation will be enacted to create “day 1” employment rights.
Where the Employer refuses a request, the Act does not refer to any right of appeal. However, the ACAS guidance does refer to allowing an appeal process.
For our retained clients, rest assured we will update your flexible working policy with the required changes as soon as Royal Assent has been passed and an effective date has been given – likely to be 2024. If you are not a retained client, please get in touch!