11 September 2023

Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill: What can employees expect?

Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill: What can employees expect?

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill received Royal Assent in July, which means employees in the UK will have additional flexibility to decide where and when they can work.

While the Bill has received Royal Assent, the law on flexible working has not officially changed but employers may wish to follow the Bill in preparation for this change. The changes are expected to come into force in Summer 2024.

The new Bill intends to strengthen the position of employees in terms of requests for flexible working arrangements.

Currently, an employee must have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service before they can make a flexible working request, for example, a request to change their working hours, times, or location. An employer is obliged to respond to any request within three months in line with the current Acas Code of Practice.

What will the changes be?

The law in respect of flexible working is currently contained in the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the Flexible Working Regulations 2024. The new law will:

  • allow employees to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period instead of one request;
  • reduce the deadline for an employer’s decision on flexible working requests from three months to two months;
  • remove the requirement for employees to explain what effect the flexible working arrangement will have on the employer; and
  • require employers to discuss an application for flexible working with the employee before any rejection.

Following the COVID-19 lockdown, employees have been pushing for changes to traditional working arrangements and the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill receiving Royal Assent is a positive step towards all employees having greater flexibility in the workplace and ultimately a better work-life balance from the start of their employment.  The new law will be supported by a new statutory Code of Practice which is being developed by Acas.

If you require further information in relation to flexible working arrangements or if you have a new employment contract you would like advice on, please contact our experienced employment lawyer, Chloe Baxter.

our lawyers deliver an excellent quality service, independently recognised by The Law Society and our many returning clients.

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