The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 has now completed its passage through Parliament and awaits Royal Assent. There are several changes to the current flexible working regime contained. They are:
- Employees will now be able to make two (currently one) flexible working requests in any 12 month period
- Requests have to be dealt with by employers within 2 months (currently 3 months) of receipt of a request, if no extension is agreed.
- Employers are not able to refuse a request until they have ‘consulted’ with the employee. There is no legislative of what the ‘consultation’ needs to include.
- Employees will no longer, in their application, have to explain what effect the employee thinks agreeing to the request would have and how any such effect might be dealt with.
However, there are some notable things which have not been included, which are as follows:
- This does not make flexible working a ‘Day 1 right’. The government has indicated that it will create Day 1 employment rights, although this has not appeared as yet.
- Employees still need to have 26 weeks service to make a request.
- There is no requirement on employers to offer a right of appeal if a request is rejected. The offer of a right of appeal is recommended in the ACAS Code of Practice on Flexible Working, but these changes have not made it a requirement of the process.
- As mentioned above, there is no minimum standard of consultation set out.