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  • An employer’s guide to April’s changes: Flexible working requests

An employer’s guide to April’s changes: Flexible working requests

In April new rules came into place about flexible working— how is your business managing the changes?

First published on Tuesday, Mar 26, 2024

Last updated on Tuesday, Mar 26, 2024

2 min read

In April, new rules came into place affecting your employees right to request flexible working.

Read our handy blog for a breakdown of the new rules to help you manage requests with ease. Let’s dive in…

What is a flexible working request?

Flexible working requests are requests made by employees to change their current terms and conditions. They’re often used to:

  • Reduce working days and hours
  • Change working locations, whether that’s fully remote or shifting to a hybrid model
  • Request job-sharing

What’s changing with flexible working requests?

The Flexible Working (Amendments) Regulations 2023 mean employees now have the right to request flexible working arrangements from day one of employment, rather than after 26 weeks’ service.

In addition, employers must now consult with employees before rejecting requests and must respond to a request made within two months.

Employees no longer need to explain what impact, if any, the change will have on the employers or the business.

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 allows employees to make two requests a year, up from one.

How should employers manage flexible working requests?

Firstly, the employee must submit their request to you in writing. And then, unless you are happy to accept the request straight away, you should arrange a meeting with the employee to discuss their request in person.

After the meeting you should carefully assess whether the request can be accommodated. If the answer is no, find out if a compromise can be reached.

Take note, there are eight statutory reasons for refusing a flexible working request. These are:

  • The burden of additional cost
  • An inability to reorganise work among existing staff
  • An inability to recruit additional staff
  • A detrimental impact on quality of work
  • A detrimental impact performance
  • A detrimental impact on the ability to meet customer demand
  • Insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
  • Interference with planned structural changes to the business

It’s important to familiarise yourself with the above reasons. Should you need to refuse the request you should confirm your decision with the employee and allow them the chance to appeal the decision if they wish to. Pending full confirmation of the new changes, the whole process, including appeal, should be completed in two months.

So, what are the key impacts of new flexible working rules for business owners?

As attitudes towards flexible working continue to shift, employers must prioritise getting the approach right.

With the rise of hybrid working models and the competitive advantage that flexible working offers, it’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure your policies and practices reflect workplace changes.

You should review your flexible working policies and provide training for managers on how to handle requests. You should also plan communication strategies to inform staff of any changes.

For more insight on managing flexible working requests and more employment law updates happening in April, download our free guide.

Or, if you need more urgent support speak to one of our employment law experts on: 0800 470 2432.

Not a BrightAdvice customer? Get urgent employment law support ahead of changing legislation. Discover more about our 24/7 advice line.

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