Employment Law: Right to Request Flexible Working | April 2023

Employment Law: Right to Request Flexible Working | April 2023

It is always beneficial to keep a breadth of forthcoming changes to Employment Law and our spotlight this month is on an employee's right to request flexible working.

The current legal position is:

An employee with at least 26 weeks continuous service with an employer can make a request for flexible working for any reason or purpose. However, an employee is limited to making one request per year. The employer has a duty to consider the request and they must follow a proper consultation procedure, which includes reasonably considering the request. There are a number of valid reasons to be able to reject the request but the employer must provide a response within 3 months.

Is this about to change?

Whilst no changes have been enacted yet, the government has been consulting on this right and published the outcome of this consultation in December last year. The government are proposing the following changes to legislation:

  • The right to request flexible working from day one of employment. Eliminating the requirement to wait 26 weeks
  • Allow up to two flexible requests in one year instead of only one
  • Reduce the response time by the employer from 3 months to 2 months

It is proposed that the reasons available to the employer for rejecting the request will not change.

The above changes have already been through the third reading in the House of Commons and are expected to be enacted later this year. Please note: The day one right to request flexible working by the employee may be introduced via secondary legislation and therefore may be introduced later than the other changes.

Our advice:

Keep your eye on the effective date for these changes and ensure your procedures and employee handbooks are fully up to date.

The business case for flexible working:

In any event, advertising jobs as flexible can help organisations access a wider and more diverse talent pool. In the current candidate driven labour market, employers need to be offering flexible working. Moreover, CIPD research shows that current staff are more likely to recommend their employer, stay loyal to their organisation, and go the extra mile if their employer offers flexible working.

If you would like further guidance on this matter, please don't hesitate to get in touch.


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