Right To Request Flexible Working Arrangements

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Right To Request Flexible Working Arrangements

Author: Sam Evans

Key Contact: Claire Knowles

What is changing?

From 6 April 2024, all employees in England, Wales and Scotland will have the right to request flexible working from day one in a new job thanks to rights granted under the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 (“the Act”) and The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023.  Previously, for applications made prior to 6 April 2024, the law required employees to be continuously employed for a period of at least 26 weeks to qualify for this right (also known as a statutory request).

As well as the right to request flexible working from day one, employees will now be entitled to make two flexible working requests (instead of one) in any 12-month period and employers will have to respond to a request within two months (including any appeals). The time period may be extended if the employee agrees to such an extension. Employers will also now have to consult with the employee in question before rejecting any flexible working requests. Finally, the Act removes the existing requirement for employees to set out what effect the proposed flexible working arrangements would have on their employer’s business and how this could be accommodated.

Unfortunately, it is not entirely clear when the changes mentioned in the preceding paragraph will take effect. However, government guidance suggests that these changes will also come into effect on 6 April 2024 as with the day one right to request flexible working. 

How do I request flexible working?

Any requests should be made in writing (either via email or in a letter). The application must include the following information:

  • The date;
  • a statement indicating that this is a statutory request;
  • details of how you wish to work flexibly and when this would take effect; and,
  • a statement saying if and when you’ve made a previous application.

ACAS Code

ACAS have also recently updated their Statutory Code of Practice for flexible working.

The changes include the following:

  • Where possible a separate manager should consider any appeals to a decision which rejected a request for flexible working.
  • It is no longer necessary for the employer and employee to arrange a formal meeting following the acceptance of a request for flexible working.
  • The Code makes clear that, whilst it is best practice, there is no statutory right of accompaniment at meetings held to discuss a flexible working request.

We would recommend that you review any existing policies to ensure that any changes consider the changes brought about by the Act and the new ACAS Code.

If you are an employer or employee and would like to better understand flexible working, then please get in touch with the Employment team at Acuity Law.

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