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Changes to Flexible Working Rules in 2024

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April 6th 2024, saw some landmark updates to employer legislation. One piece of legislation will change employer relations for good. The Flexible Working Amendment 2023 has made massive changes to flexible working, and employers must adapt.

What is Flexible Working?

Simply put, flexible working and flexible working rules are any type of working pattern that differs from a conventional one. In other words, ways of working that suit an employee’s needs.

For example:

  • 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 schedules to suit their personal needs and daily lives. It also benefits employers, as employees can schedule their time around the needs of the business.

What Has Changed About Flexible Working?

The changes that the government published in response to the 2021 consultation on flexible working laws and rules became law on April 6th. Here are the critical changes to flexible working:

Flexible Working is a Day One Right

The right to request flexible working is now a Day One Right. Previously, this option was only available after 26 weeks of continuous employment. However, with the changes, employees can now make requests on their first day of employment.

However, you should remember that this is just a right to request flexible working hours and not a right to have them.

The Procedure is Changing

The process of requesting flexible working is now much simpler. Employees no longer have to explain how their request might impact the employer.

More Requests are Being Allowed

Previously, only one request for flexible working was allowed within 12 months, and the employer was required to respond within three months.

However, employees can now make two requests within 12 months of working, and an employer must respond within two months.

Discussing Alternatives

The government has also changed its guidance on procedure.

If you, as the employer, intend to reject an employee’s flexible working request, you must now discuss alternative forms of flexible working from the request.

What do Employers Need to do?

If you are a client of HR:4UK you do not need to do anything as we have already updated the contents of your flexible working policy. All you would need to do is to point your employees to their Employment Handbook to see the changes.

Non-clients are already on the right track after reading this guide, but it’s important to be diligent when reacting to changes. Check your current flexible working policy and procedure to ensure you’re compliant. It’s tempting to check off the big boxes, such as changing to a two-month turnaround time, but look at the details, like your rejection procedure.

However we would recommend that you also prepare your managers for the shift. As employees take advantage of the changes, your senior personnel need to be able to adapt to variations in working hours and patterns.

To assist with the shift, you could implement new technologies such as remote meeting software or introduce policies such as a handover process for employees working different hours.

Ultimately, it’s about embracing flexible working, not running away. 95% of employees who work flexibly say it positively impacts their productivity, so you may find some benefits to embracing a flexible approach.

Need help Navigating the Flexible Working Rules and Changes?

At HR:4UK, we 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.

E: [email protected] or call us on 01455 444222

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.