Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 has now been given royal assent.
Royal assent is the final step required for a bill (proposed law) entered into Parliament to become law.
The new legislation is stated as likely to come into effect in Spring 2024, and this means:
- Employees will be able to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period. The current entitlement is one flexible working request in any 12-month period.
- Employees will no longer be required to substantiate a request by explaining how their request will impact the business.
- Employers will be required to respond to a flexible working request within two months, compared to the current three-month requirement.
However, while it has been indicated there is an intention to remove the 26-week qualifying period, giving employees the right to request flexible working from the first day of their employment, this has not been confirmed in the impending legislation and may need to be dealt with under a separate bill. For now, the qualifying period of 26 weeks may remain.
Commentators for the new legislation have stated that flexible working goes far to improving employee wellbeing and satisfaction, providing employees with increased control over their time management so they can thrive in and outside of work. It has been stated that the new change is: “a right to request, not a right to insist”.
Employers will remain entitled to turn down a request pointing to reasonable grounds as a basis for refusal.
However, in the current employment climate, many employers are already ahead of the curve offering flexible working practices in job advertisements, a practice that can prove beneficial in attracting candidates in challenging job markets.
There is no need to await the changes to review your current flexible working practices, in fact, you may determine that your business already offers great flexibility for your staff.
We, at Lawgistics, will keep you informed as announcements progress. Should you wish to contact us regarding one or two flexible working requests as the new changes come into force, we are here to assist.
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