Right to request flexible working

Stephen SimpsonEditor's message: The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 has received Royal Assent, setting the scene for some important changes to the statutory right to request flexible working. The key changes include:

  • giving employees the right to make two requests, rather than one, in a 12-month period;
  • removing the requirement that an employee must explain what effect, if any, that their request would have on the employer and how that might be dealt with;
  • requiring employers to respond to a request within two months, rather than the current three months (see the Timescales section of the policy); and
  • placing an obligation on an employer to consult with an employee before rejecting a request.

The Government has also confirmed its intention to introduce legislation to make the statutory right to request flexible working a day-one right. Meanwhile, Acas is updating its code of practice on handling flexible working requests to reflect these changes and modernise the code’s approach to flexible working.

The timetable for implementation has not been confirmed but the changes are unlikely to come into effect until 2024. In the meantime, we provide a Flexible working requests policy (preliminary draft reflecting forthcoming reforms) for HR professionals who would like to get a head start on preparing the new version of their organisation’s flexible working requests policy.

Stephen Simpson, principal HR strategy and practice editor

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HR and legal information and guidance relating to the right to request flexible working.