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Changes to Flexible Working Rules in 2023

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What is Flexible Working? 

Simply put, flexible working and flexible working rules are a way of working that suits an employee’s needs. It is any type of working pattern that differs from a conventional one or the employee’s existing one. 

Some examples of flexible working arrangements include but are not limited to:

  • Having flexible start and finish times
  • Moving from full-time to part-time work
  • Adapting work hours to suit school hours or care arrangements
  • Working remotely for part or all of your time

Flexible working allows employees to adapt their work schedule to suit their personal needs and day-to-day life. It can benefit employers too, as the employee can work their time around the needs of the business. Additionally, flexibility in the workplace is a highly desired quality in an employer, as on a personal level it can show more understanding.

What is Changing About Flexible Working?

The government has published their consultation paper in response to the 2021 consultation on flexible working laws and rules. Here are the key points that you as an employer, need to understand about the proposed changes to flexible working.

  • Flexible Working is a Day One Right

The right to request flexible working is going to become a Day One Right. Currently, this is only an option available for employees with 26 weeks of continuous employment. But, with the proposed changes, it essentially means that any employee can make this request on their first day of employment.

However, the government’s published response is quick to clarify that this remains a right to request, and should not be taken as a right to have flexible working.

  • The Procedure is Changing

The process of requesting flexible working is being simplified. The government’s response details that employees will no longer have to set out how the effects of their request might impact the employer. 

  • More Requests are Being Allowed

Currently, only one request for flexible working is allowed to be made within a 12-month period. This is accompanied by an employer response time of three months. 

But, the government’s response to the consultation outlines the change which will allow two requests within a 12-month period and an employer response time of two months. 

  • Discussing Alternatives 

Although this is not certain to be a statutory requirement, it is still updated guidance set out in the government’s response. 

If you, as the employer, intend to reject an employee’s flexible working request, you must discuss alternative forms of flexible working available, if such forms are available. Hopefully, you and the employee will be able to come to an arrangement that suits both parties involved. 

  • What do Employers Need to do?

As an employer, you’re already on the right track by reading this guide. Staying informed about the upcoming proposed changes to flexible working is crucial to the success of your business. Flexibility in the workplace continues to evolve, and it has shown multiple benefits to both the employee and the employer.

However, the consultation paper specifies that primary legislation is required, this means that an Act of Parliament will be required to enact the legislation. Although it is not detailed in the government’s response when this will be, or a timetable of any kind, the government has said that it will support this through the existing Private Members’ Bill. With this in mind, it seems the change in request limit and response time will happen fairly soon.

Struggling to Navigate the Flexible Working Rules and Changes?

At HR:4UK, we strongly believe that employers should be able to focus on their business as a priority. We have made this a reality for thousands of employers and businesses, alleviating the responsibility of HR and employment law matters.

We strive to empower businesses, with expert and professional HR support. Allow yourself to focus on your business and consult with HR:4UK today for better guidance through the changes in flexible working legislation.

Angela Clay

A qualified employment law solicitor and our managing director, Angela has unparalleled legal expertise and decades of experience and knowledge to draw from. She’s a passionate speaker and writer that loves to keep employers updated with upcoming changes to legislation, and is a regular guest speaker on BBC Leicester Radio.