Right to request Flexible Working from Day 1
Employees will be able to request flexible working from their first day in employment
Yesterday the Government published its response to the recent consultation on flexible working. New laws will update flexible working arrangements, which appear to reflect our post-Pandemic “new normal” working practices. Typical examples of flexible working include requests by employees to work from home, change their contracted hours, go part-time and/or job share.
Summary of Government Response
- The right to request flexible working will become a Day One right. This represents significant reduction from the current eligibility criteria of 26 weeks’ continuous employment.
- Employees will be able to make two requests for flexible working in each 12-month period, whereas currently only one request is allowed per year.
- An employer will need to respond to an employee’s request within two months (currently three months).
- If an employer intends to reject the request, it will first be required to discuss alternatives to the request.
- Employees will no longer need to detail how their flexible working may impact their employer or their business within their written requests.
Can employers still refuse requests for flexible working? Yes, there have been no changes in this regard. However, employers can only refuse a request when they have a legitimate reason, which is one of the 8 reasons prescribed by statute.
When will these changes come into effect? The Government’s response does not include a set timeline to introduce new legislation. Some of the proposals are included in a Bill, which the Government will support. It is expected that the changes will come into effect during 2023.
Action needed for employers: Once timings are confirmed, employers should update their flexible working policies accordingly.