Significant changes in flexible working regulations have been introduced and became effective from 6th April 2024, following the introduction of the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023. These changes mark a pivotal shift towards enhancing work-life balance and flexibility for employees.

In this article we will look at the new changes, how employees will benefit, and what employers will need to do to be compliant with the law.

Why have the changes been introduced?

The measures expect to give employees across the UK even more flexibility over where and when they work resulting in a happier workforce and therefore increasing productivity.

Not only does flexible working help individuals fit work alongside other commitments – whether it’s the school drop off, studying or caring for vulnerable friends and family – it’s expected to help firms to attract more talent, increase employee retention and improve workforce diversity.

What are the updates to flexible working?

The key changes to current legislation are;

  • Workers will have the right to request flexible working from day one of a new job, with employers required to consider any requests and provide a reason before rejection. Employees will no longer need to wait for 26 weeks of continuous service to request flexible working arrangements.
  • The new regulations allow employees to make two requests for flexible working within a 12-month period, when previously only one was allowed.
  • Employers are now required to respond to flexible working requests within two months instead of three. However, this can be extended on a case-by-case basis if both the employer and employee consent.
  • Before refusing any flexible working request, employers must consult with the employee, promoting a more collaborative approach to finding workable solutions.
  • Employees are relieved from the obligation to explain how their proposed change will affect the business and how such effects might be mitigated, streamlining the request process.

How will employees benefit from the changes?

The amendments aim to deliver a more flexible and adaptable working environment, recognising the diverse needs of the modern workforce. The benefits anticipated for employees include:

  • Improved Work-Life Balance: By facilitating easier access to flexible working arrangements, employees can achieve a better balance between their professional and personal lives.
  • Inclusivity and Diversity: Making flexible working more accessible supports a more diverse workforce, including those with caring responsibilities, disabilities, or those living further from their place of work.

What do employers need to do?

Employers need to make sure they are compliant with the new rules. The easiest way to do this will be;

  • Review and Update Policies: Ensure that your flexible working policies reflect the new legislation.
  • Management Training: Train managers on the new rights and procedures to ensure they are equipped to handle requests effectively and within the stipulated timeframe.
  • Communicate the changes: Inform employees about their new rights to request flexible working from day one, enhancing awareness and understanding of the changes.

This of course assumes that the employer has written policies already – if not, then we would strongly recommend putting them in place.

How can our team at Backhouse help?

If you are an employee with questions on how the changes to flexible working will apply to you, or an employer who needs to understand how your business will be affected and how you can ensure you are compliant with the law, our experts are here to help.

Contact us today to book a free initial consultation with one of our friendly employment solicitors.

Tel:          01245 893400
Visit:       17 Duke Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1JU
Or send us a message through the Contact Us page on this website.