Changes to the flexible working legislation

Changes to the flexible working legislation

A number of long awaited changes to the flexible working legislation came into force on Saturday (6 April 2024), namely:

  • The right to make a flexible working request has become a "day one" right. This means that employees can now make a flexible working request from the first day of their employment.
  • Employees can now make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period instead of one.
  • The time period for an employer to deal with, and respond to, the flexible working request including any appeal has been reduced from three months to two months from the date the request is made. The parties can still agree to extend the decision period.
  • Employers cannot refuse a flexible working request unless they have consulted with the employee about the request. In practice, this will involve discussing the reasons for the refusal with the employee before making the final decision.
  • Employees are no longer be required to explain in their flexible working request what effect the employee thinks the request would have on the employer and how this effect might be dealt with. 

These changes will likely increase the number of flexible working requests that are made. As a reminder, employees can bring claims in the Employment Tribunal for procedural failings. 

Employers should therefore:

  • Provide training for managers so that they are aware of the changes and understand the statutory procedure for dealing with flexible working requests. 
  • Update any flexible working policies they have in place to reflect these changes.

Please reach out to your relevant contact at Stephenson Harwood if you require any help with updating your policies or would like training on the flexible working regime.