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Employees to be able to request flexible working from day one

Removing the current 26-week qualifying period will make the right to request flexible working accessible to more employees

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Published 9 December 2022

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The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (“BEIS”) has recently published the Government’s response to its flexible working consultation.

The response confirms that employees will gain the right to request flexible working from the first day of their employment.

Removing the current 26-week qualifying period will, according to the report, make the right to request flexible working accessible to more employees (an estimated additional 2.2 million people), supporting labour market participation and improving workforce diversity.

While emphasising that the legislation remains a right to request, not a right to have, the report also recognises that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to flexible working and it encourages constructive conversations between employers and employees to find arrangements that work for both parties.

In addition to making the right to request flexible working a day-one right, the Government has confirmed that:

– Employees will be permitted to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period (rather than one);

– Employers will have to respond to requests within two months (down from three);

– Employers will be required to consult with employees, as means of exploring the alternative options, before rejecting a flexible working request;

– The requirement for employees to set out how the effects of their flexible working request might be dealt with by their employer will be removed; and

– The eight business reasons for refusing a flexible working request will remain valid.

Enhanced guidance has also been promised to improve understanding of how to make and administer temporary requests for flexible working.

Currently there is no timeline for when the changes will be brought in. There is, however, a Private Members’ Bill making its way through Parliament which, having passed its second reading in October, could carry through some of the changes.

For more information, visit our flexible working knowledge hub.

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Shorter Reads

Employees to be able to request flexible working from day one

Removing the current 26-week qualifying period will make the right to request flexible working accessible to more employees

Published 9 December 2022

Associated sectors / services

Authors

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (“BEIS”) has recently published the Government’s response to its flexible working consultation.

The response confirms that employees will gain the right to request flexible working from the first day of their employment.

Removing the current 26-week qualifying period will, according to the report, make the right to request flexible working accessible to more employees (an estimated additional 2.2 million people), supporting labour market participation and improving workforce diversity.

While emphasising that the legislation remains a right to request, not a right to have, the report also recognises that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to flexible working and it encourages constructive conversations between employers and employees to find arrangements that work for both parties.

In addition to making the right to request flexible working a day-one right, the Government has confirmed that:

– Employees will be permitted to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period (rather than one);

– Employers will have to respond to requests within two months (down from three);

– Employers will be required to consult with employees, as means of exploring the alternative options, before rejecting a flexible working request;

– The requirement for employees to set out how the effects of their flexible working request might be dealt with by their employer will be removed; and

– The eight business reasons for refusing a flexible working request will remain valid.

Enhanced guidance has also been promised to improve understanding of how to make and administer temporary requests for flexible working.

Currently there is no timeline for when the changes will be brought in. There is, however, a Private Members’ Bill making its way through Parliament which, having passed its second reading in October, could carry through some of the changes.

For more information, visit our flexible working knowledge hub.

Associated sectors / services

Authors

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