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The Employee Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023: Top Tips for Employers

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Following on from our previous newsletter discussing the upcoming changes to flexible working, this article will instead focus on how the effects of the new legislation can be dealt with and what changes employers may need to make before the proverbial hammer strikes. 

The Changes to Flexible Work and What it Means for Employers

As it currently stands, workers are able to request flexible working once in any given 12-month period, and employers have up to three months to respond. In addition, employees must also explain the impact of their flexible working request on their role, and how to mitigate any potential impact it may have.

With the upcoming Employee Relations Act 2023, all of this is set to change drastically:

  • Flexible working requests are set to double to two in 12 months
  • Employers have only two months to respond to a request
  • Employees no longer have to discuss the impact of their request
  • Employers must now consult with staff upon refusal of a request

The potential impact on business owners will now be quite drastic. So, what can you do as a business to prepare?

The Employee Relations Act 2023: Pro-active Tips for Employers

  1. Allow More Time for Admin

All of these new changes will necessarily result in far more administration than what was previously expected, and it will also be easier to fall foul of the law. The ‘Ostrich Approach’ – of ignoring the request – stands to be far more risky than before with the alterations to the response time.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that over 40% of employees who had previously requested flexible working arrangements reported that their employers took more than two months to respond[1]; under the new legislation, this simply won’t be good enough.

As such, employers should allow for far more admin time, and be acutely aware of the need to respond quickly to avoid falling foul of the law.

  1. Consider Operational Adjustments

With more employees working from home or elsewhere, the need for adjustments will be keen. This is likely to involve the use of different types of software or platform to share information, as well as to keep track of what everyone is doing.

Similarly, the workflow may need to be adjusted – it’s likely that certain tasks may be better fulfilled in the workplace, whereas others may suit those at home better. As a result, it’s a wise idea for employers to plan ahead when it comes to the division of labour rather than see their overall productivity suffer.

  1. Develop More Means of Communication

Correspondingly, now may be a good time to open further means of open communication. Server services such as Discord, Teams or Zoom may be a good way to ensure that your workforce avoids any potential challenges to team cohesion, while messenger services such as WhatsApp or Slack may be useful for reacting to things in real-time when staff are spread across several different locations.

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. In this way, it’s a good idea to start using tools such as those mentioned above early so that your business isn’t struggling once the legislation hits.

  1. Change Your Metrics

As with operational adjustments, it will be pertinent to reconsider what constitutes a successful metric. An employee may well perform better in certain aspects of the job at home rather than at the workplace, and vice versa. With that in mind, it may be worthwhile to consider alternative measurements for performance that fall more in line with the conditions of the time.

  1. Ensure Compliance at All Times

As mentioned previously, one thing that employers cannot afford to do is ignore or stray away from the new changes. The likelihood of your business running into complications is effectively doubled with the Employee Relations Act 2023, so be sure that you get to grips with the particulars before complaints and claims are made to keep your business safe.

  1. Offer Flexible Working

Perhaps the best way to circumvent the new changes is to simply implement flexible working where possible beforehand. For instance, a three days in/two days at home approach has already paid dividends for many businesses up and down the country, and those who are ahead of the curve on this matter stand to receive none of the difficulties that others might.


While it’s clear that the changes indicate many positives for employees themselves, the picture for employers is somewhat murkier. For those organisations who have yet to implement flexible working in any real sense, the situation is likely to worsen before it improves unless reasonable measures such as those above are taken.

Indeed, for some businesses, any changes at all to the structure of their work may be intensely difficult. HR:4UK are experts in this regard: our dedicated team of professional advisors is on hand to help your company navigate a steady course through these untrammelled waters.

Get in touch today and we can help your business prepare before it’s too late. You can call us on 01455 444 222, or alternatively, email [email protected] to give your company a head start on the upcoming changes.

[1] CIPD. (2023). Flexible and Hybrid Working Practices in 2023.https://www.cipd.org/uk/knowledge/reports/flexible-hybrid-working-2023/

James Dawson

James is our resident wordsmith and has many years of experience in writing about a huge variety of topics from HR to Occupational Health and beyond. He has been published in numerous magazines and news outlets, and especially enjoys researching and analysing the current trends in the modern business world.

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