Posted 31 January 2024 | 0 Comments

Changes in flexible working regulations set to take effect on April 6, 2024, as announced by the government. These amendments, known as the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023, were laid before parliament on December 11 and will apply to applications made on or after the mentioned date.

Notably, the current requirement for employees to be employed for at least 26 weeks before requesting flexible working will be eliminated. This means that employees will have the right to request flexible working arrangements from the first day of their employment.

Things to consider

  • The new regulations, part of broader changes under the Act that received royal assent in July, introduce key modifications. Employers will be mandated to consult with employees when a flexible working request is made before deciding to reject it. The response time for employers will be reduced from the current three months to two months.
  • Furthermore, employees will be able to make two flexible working requests within a 12-month period, compared to the current allowance of a single request. Importantly, there will no longer be a requirement for employees to explain the impact of their request on the employer or how any potential effects will be managed.
  • To assist our clients in navigating these changes effectively, we recommend reviewing and updating your current flexible working policies to ensure alignment with the new regulations.
  • It’s advisable to anticipate a potential increase in the volume of flexible working requests due to the publicity surrounding these changes. Employers should establish effective processes for promptly reviewing and responding to applications, along with providing training to managers on how to handle these requests.
  • Rather than viewing the changes merely as compliance with the law, employers are encouraged to embrace a shift in workplace dynamics. This includes considering the broader implications on organisational culture, investing in technology that supports remote or hybrid work, and redesigning workspaces to accommodate flexible schedules.
  • ACAS are due to release a updated statutory code of practice on requests for flexible working will be published, covering aspects such as employee consultation, transparency in rejecting requests, and the importance of offering an appeal in case of rejection. This code will be considered by employment tribunals.

In conclusion, we advise our clients to proactively prepare for these changes by reviewing and updating policies, training managers, and embracing a mindset that sees these changes as an opportunity to enhance operational models and foster a culture of increased employee engagement, retention, and a broader talent pool.

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