The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 | QCS

The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023

March 13, 2024

In December 2023, the government announced that new flexible working regulations will come into effect on 6 April 2024. These regulations known as The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023, will significantly change the way employers handle flexible working requests.

A draft Code of Practice on requests for flexible working was published by ACAS on 11th January 2024. The Code of Practice is currently in draft form for parliamentary approval, following consultation in 2023. If approved, this Code is expected to come into effect in April 2024. However, the current Code of Practice applies until then. ACAS will publish a full response to the consultation before the draft Code comes into effect.

What are the amendments?

The key change under the new regulations is that employees will have the right to request flexible working arrangements from day one of employment. It will apply to applications made on or after 6th April 2024.

Until 5th April 2024, employees will continue to require 26 weeks’ continuous employment to make a flexible working request.

The regulations makes four other main changes to the current regime:

  1. Employees will be able to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period, as opposed to the current limit of one request.
  2. Requests will have to be dealt with by employers within 2 months of receipt, rather than 3 months currently, if no extension is agreed.
  3. Employers will be required to engage in consultation with employees before rejecting their flexible working request. The draft Code of Practice addresses the method of consultation and that this “should allow for a reasonable discussion and consideration of the request. It will usually be helpful to discuss, for example, the potential benefits or other impacts of accepting or rejecting the request, and any practical considerations involved in implementing the request”.
  4. The existing requirement for an employee to explain the potential impact of the requested change on the employer, and how any such impact might be managed, will be removed.

It is understood that these four changes will also come into force on 6 April 2024, but this is yet to be confirmed.

How can employers prepare for the changes?

Employers should:

  • Be prepared that there is likely to be a higher volume of flexible working requests, particularly once it becomes a ‘day one’ right
  • Start by reviewing flexible working policies and procedures to ensure they implement the changes, for example:
    • Establish a process to formally meet with employees who make requests and establishing templates to respond to requests that provide the recommended level of detail
    • Ensure there are effective processes in place to review and respond to applications promptly
    • Update policies to ensure it reflects the 2-month statutory timeframe to respond to a request
    • Prepare to discuss flexible working options as part of the recruitment process
  • Arrange training for managers on the changes to flexible working requests and how to deal with them effectively and emphatically
If you have any queries or are in need of specific advice in relation to flexible working or any Employment law query, please contact a member of the AfterAthena team (part of the Napthens Group) who are able to offer 30 minutes of free advice to QCS members.
AfterAthena
AfterAthena

Employment Law Specialists

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