New regulations extending flexible working rights were put before Parliament on 11th December 2023. Once the regulations come in to force employees will no longer need to have 26 weeks’ continuous employment in order to make a flexible working request. The new regulations, which are expected to come into effect on the 6th April 2024, state that a flexible working request can be made on day one of employment.
The changes come after years of campaigning from flexible working charities and employment bodies to change the current regulations to make it easier to remain in work after having a baby, if you have other caring responsibilities or if you have disabilities that mean you can’t easily get into the office or work in an office environment.
According to the CIPD.org.uk, 60% of employees have flexible working arrangements in their current role. And it doesn’t look like the demand for flexible working and home working is going to go away any time soon with 71% of respondents saying that being able to have a flexible working pattern is important to them and 69% saying that the ability to work remotely is important.
They add “While a myth persists that flexible and hybrid working is only suitable for certain industries, an increase in access to different forms of flexibility, including different start and finish times, compressed hours, job-shares, the ability to swap shifts, etc, will help organisations offer better options to their employees, regardless of their job role or sector they work in”.
Other planned amendments include increasing the number of statutory requests permitted to be made in a 12-month period from one to two and reducing the amount of time that employers will have to deal with and respond to applications for flexible working from 3 months to 2 months.
Katie Ash, Head of Employment Law says “This is a significant change to the flexible working regime and employers need to know that when recruiting new staff members, they will be able to make an application to work in a different way as soon as their employment starts. Employers need to ensure that their policies are updated and their managers are trained to ensure that applications are dealt with prop in order to avoid the risk of grievances and claims rising”.
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