The number of people requesting flexible working arrangements has remained historically high after many workers experienced working from home during the pandemic.
While each employer is making its own decision about how it offers flexible working, the Government is intervening to introduce new rules that support employees’ requests for flexible working.
Many workers are now eagerly awaiting The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act of 2023, which has successfully passed through Parliament and is now awaiting Royal Assent.
The new Act, once introduced, will bring in some key changes to employment rights:
- Employees will now have the ability to submit two flexible working requests within 12 months.
- Employers are required to address these requests within two months of receiving them unless an extension is agreed upon.
- Employers cannot reject a request until they have engaged in a “consultation” process with the employee. However, there are no specific legislative guidelines regarding the extent or content of this “consultation.”
- Employees are no longer obligated to explain the anticipated impact of their request or propose how any potential effects could be managed.
However, while the Act introduces these changes it does not, as previously considered:
- Grant employees a “Day 1 right” to flexible working. Employees still need to complete 26 weeks of service before they can submit a request.
- Mandate employers to offer an appeals process in the event of a rejected flexible working request. Employers could, however, choose to follow the voluntary ACAS code of conduct for appeals.
- Establish a substantive requirement for the consultation with the employee or specify the necessary scope of available options.
If you are unsure of your rights in respect of flexible working, either now or as a result of this upcoming legislative change, and you would like advice on applications or appeals on flexible working, please speak to us.