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Flexible working requests to become a day one right from 6 April 2024

By February 27, 2024Employment

From 6 April 2024, employees in the United Kingdom will have the right to request flexible working from their first day of employment. This means employees will no longer need to wait until they have been employed for six months before being eligible to make a request.

Acas has recently updated its Code of Practice on requests for flexible working , which is currently awaiting parliamentary approval. The updated Code incorporates the changes made to Flexible Working laws with effect from 6 April 2024.

What is Flexible Working?

Flexible working can include the following:

  • When employees work – such as, flexi-time, part-time, annualised hours and compressed hours.
  • Where employees work – such as homeworking or hybrid working.
  • How employees work – such as by job-sharing.

The New Position 

The new Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 will introduce changes which take effect from 6 April 2024. 

The key changes and processes are:

  • A flexible working request must be in writing, dated and specify the change requested.  
  • The employer has an obligation to deal with the flexible working request reasonably.
  • Following the request, the employer will have two months to deal with the request (which is reduced from three). However, the employer and employee can agree to extend this period if necessary.
  • The employee will no longer have to explain in their request how the change(s) will affect the business and how these effects can be mitigated. 
  • The draft Code now suggests that employers should carefully consider the effect on the employer together with the impact on the employee if the request is granted or refused.
  • Unless the request is accepted in full by the employer, they should promptly invite the employee to a meeting. 
  • The new legislation will require the employer to consult with the employee about the request and its potential effects. 
  • The draft Code suggests discussing alternatives between the parties if the request cannot be agreed.
  • Acas advises to allow the employee to be accompanied at the meeting and to give a right of appeal against a refusal.
  • If the request is refused, the employee will be able to make two requests in a 12-month period, (previously this was limited to one request every 12 months). 
  • The employer must inform the employee of the outcome, which should be given in writing. 
  • Any refusal can only be based on specific grounds which include grounds relating to costs, customer/client demand and impact on performance.

We recommend that employers should start to familiarise themselves with the new amendments and processes to make sure they are prepared for when the new legislation to come into effect. 

If you would like any advice about making a flexible working application or dealing with a request from an employee, please contact a member of the Employment Team.

Find more of the latest legal updates here.

Natalie Howitt

Author Natalie Howitt

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