Flexible Working Requests –
Just HOW flexible do employers need to be?

One of the legacies of the pandemic that remains is that working from home is now common place, whether that be on a full or hybrid basis. In addition, when, how and where staff worked accelerated the number of flexible working requests.

Last year a consultation commenced regarding modern work places and the government published its response to flexible working. Employers need to be aware of the changes because they mean that the volume of flexible working requests may now become even greater. Whilst legislation is required to formally implement these changes, given that the government will support the Private Members Bill, it is likely that these changes will be implemented sooner rather than later. Here’s a summary;

  • At present, employees need 26 weeks consecutive service in order to make a flexible working request. This will change to a day one of employment right request, so no service is required.
  • Currently employees can only make one flexible working request per 12 month period. This will change so that employees can make up to 2 requests per 12 month period.
  • If an employer is contemplating rejecting the flexible working request, then there will be a new duty on the employer to discuss alternatives. A more concerted effort will be required from the employer to provide a solution.
  • The time period for employers to consider and respond to a flexible working request will reduce from 3 months to 2 months.
  • The 8 prescribed reasons for employers to reject a flexible working request will remain and there are no changes proposed here.
  • In terms of the procedure to make a flexible working request, employees will no longer be required to set out what the effects of the flexible working request may be on the employer and the workplace.

Of course, it still will be the case that whilst there is a right to “request” to work flexibly, there is no right to actually work flexibly. That said, there clearly has been a shift in working cultures and certainly many employers as part of recruitment and retention strategies are adopting and permitting a myriad of different working practices. All in all, the proposed changes to the right to request flexible working seem to be shifting towards a simpler, quicker and more common place process.

If you are faced with request to work flexibly and would like advice on your flexible working policy, contact;

or call;

0113 258 0033

This article was originally published on: 7 December 2022

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