On 19 July 2023, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill was given Royal Assent, and passed as law. It will be known as the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023.
The announcement setting out the legislation has some significant deletions from what was originally contained in the Bill. This includes the removal of the entitlement to request flexible working from day one of employment. Although, it is understood, this could be introduced at a later date through secondary legislation. Furthermore, the legislation will no longer give employees a statutory right to appeal a flexible working decision. Although, the Acas code of practice does recommend this entitlement.
When the legislation comes into force, it will:
- Employees will be able to make two requests per year (the current entitlement is only one)
- A request must be dealt with within two months of receipt of a request (assuming no extension is requested)
- Employers will be required to consult with employees before refusing a flexible working request. However, the legislation does not specify what ‘consultation’ means or what it is to include.
- The new right to request flexible working will apply to all employees, including those who are on fixed-term contracts, zero-hours contracts, and agency contracts.
- No longer require employees to set out in their application form the impact of their proposed new working arrangement would have on their role and how it would be dealt with.
It is currently unclear when the new legislation will come into force. In the meantime, employers must prioritise updating their Flexible Working policy, and all associated documentation.
We’re here to help
Our expert team can support you in updating your policies to reflect the new legislation. Contact us to find out more.