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New law extends flexible working rights

Published on: 2 Aug 2023

Legislation to extend the right of employees in England, Wales and Scotland to ask for flexible working arrangements has reached the statute book.

actuaryUnder the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, employees can make up to two flexible working requests within 12 months and have the right to do so from day one of a new job. Employers must respond to requests within two months.

The law, which received Royal Assent in July, also introduces a requirement for employers to consult employees before rejecting such requests.

Under the legislation, flexible working can relate to working hours or patterns, including part-time, term-time, flexi-time, compressed hours or adjusted start and finish times. It can also include flexibility around where someone works, whether that is from home or at a satellite office that shortens their commute.

Research published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in May revealed that an estimated four million people have changed careers due to a lack of flexibility, while an estimated two million have left a job in the past year for the same reason.

In response to the legislation, Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) will be updating its statutory Code of Practice on handling requests for flexible working, following a consultation launched in July. The code aims to provide employers, employees and representatives with a clear explanation of the law, alongside advice on handling requests in a reasonable manner.