In July, the current rights for employees who make a flexible working request are changing. At FPM, we've broken down what this means for you.
On 20th July 2023, The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 received Royal Assent which will make amendments to the current rights of employees who request a flexible working arrangement, this will come into force on the 6th April 2024.
Employers are required to update their policies and procedures before the 6th April 2024, but before you do that let's take a look at what the previous arrangements were, what will be changing, and what resources you can use to understand your responsibilities.
• Employees who had 26 weeks of continuous service could make an application for flexible working arrangements.
• Provide a business case or an explanation of what effect their request may have and how the effect might be dealt.
• Only one request over 12 months could be made.
• An employer had 3 months to respond to the request.
What will be changing?
• An employer must consult with their employees before they reject their flexible working request, however, the Act does not provide detail on the type or level of consultation required.
• Employers must respond to the request within 2 months.
• Employees can make two flexible working requests over 12 months.
• Employees no longer need to submit a business case or explanation on what effect their request may have and how the effect might be dealt.
What remains the same?
The media has reported that flexible working will be a day one right however this is not the case, the right only applies to those with 26 weeks of continuous service. There is no right to appeal the employer’s decision however Acas suggests that it is good practice to consider an appeal.
An employer can lawfully refuse a flexible working request based on one or more of the following:
• extra costs that will damage the business
• the work cannot be reorganised among other staff
• people cannot be recruited to do the work
• flexible working will affect quality and performance
• the business will not be able to meet customer demand
• there is a lack of work to do during the proposed working times
• the business is planning changes to the workforce
The government has announced that they plan to make flexible working a day one right however draft legislation is yet to be published.
Acas has provided a draft Code of Practice on handling flexible working requests to help employers and employees understand their rights and responsibilities, more information on this is available here.
FPM will be updating Flexible Working Policies and Procedures over the coming weeks, if members have any questions on the above please do not hesitate to get in touch.