new flexible working

A guide on the new flexible working regulations

A guide on the new flexible working regulations

The government has declared that as of 6th April 2024, the new flexible working rules will be enforced. This grants employees the entitlement to request flexible working starting from their first day of employment.

As per the existing legislation, employees must have completed a minimum of 26 weeks of employment before being eligible to submit a request for flexible work arrangements.

Flexible working encompasses various work patterns and hours. This includes part-time, flexi-time, term-time arrangements, compressed hours, and modifications to start and end times, as well as location flexibility, like working remotely from home.

What do the new regulations entail?

  • Under the Act, employers will be obligated to engage in consultation with employees when considering a flexible working request before deciding to reject it. 
  • Reduced waiting times for decisions to be made: This change will also shorten the period within which employers must respond to a request, reducing it from the current three months to two months.
  • Workers will have the opportunity to submit two requests within a 12-month timeframe, as opposed to the current allowance of a single request.
  • Furthermore, there will be no obligation for the employee to elaborate on the potential impact of their request on the employer or suggest measures to manage any potential effects.

What should employers do to prepare?

In anticipation of these changes, employers should start by examining their present flexible working policies and ensure they conform to the upcoming regulations.  Due to this change in law, employers should prepare for an increased influx of requests for flexible working arrangements.

Now is the time for Employers to set up procedures for promptly reviewing and responding to applications.  Establishing clear communication channels that foster open dialogue regarding flexible working preferences is crucial.  Equally crucial is training managers to manage these requests effectively and empathetically.

While workers will have the entitlement to request flexible working from their first day, Employers do not necessarily have to approve them.  However, Employers can only turn down a flexible working request if there’s a valid business reason. It’s important Employers make decisions based on facts and not personal opinion.

Reasons for refusing flexible working requests

There are eight fair reasons for refusing flexible working requests and employers should think about the impact on the business of accepting or rejecting these requests.

Acas outline that by law, a request can only be turned down if:

  • it will cost your business too much
  • you cannot reorganise the work among other staff
  • you cannot recruit more staff
  • there will be a negative effect on quality
  • there will be a negative effect on the business’ ability to meet customer demand
  • there will be a negative effect on performance
  • there’s not enough work for your employee to do when they’ve requested to work
  • there are planned changes to the business, for example, you intend to reorganise or change the business and think the request will not fit with these plans

Research from CIPD indicates that 6% of employees switched jobs last year due to limited flexible options. In addition, 12% exited their profession entirely because of a lack of flexibility within the sector. This accounts for nearly 2 and 4 million workers, respectively.

With the right to request flexible working from day one of employment, it is good practice for Employers to ensure they clearly communicate the extent of flexibility available, such as remote or hybrid working, in job advertisements. 

Acas Code of Practice

In response to this legislation, Acas intends to revise its statutory Code of Practice after conducting a consultation, initiated on 12th July. The objective of this Code is to offer employers, employees, and representatives a comprehensive clarification of the law regarding the statutory entitlement to request flexible working. Additionally, it will offer practical advice on managing these requests in a fair manner.

Do you require assistance or guidance with managing the complexities of flexible working requests? HPC is here to support you in navigating these inquiries, ensuring they’re addressed effectively and in compliance with regulations.

To find out more information or if you require any advice regarding the new regulations, get in contact with our team of experts.

T: 0330 107 1037


LinkedIn: High Performance Consultancy

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