Royal Assent for changes to flexible working legislation

Posted on August 1st, 2023

Further to the CEFMinform article on flexible working, posted in December 2022, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 received Royal Assent on 20 July 2023. The measures contained in the Act are expected to come into force in about a year’s time.

What is changing?

Under the Act, the following amendments have been made to the Employment Rights Act 1996:

  • An employee will be able to make two applications for flexible working in a 12 month period, although they cannot be made concurrently.
  • An employer will need to make a decision within two months of the application being submitted (the previous time limit was three months).
  • An employer must consult with the employee before refusing an application for flexible working.
  • There will no longer be a requirement for the employee to explain any possible effects the change could have on the business, and to suggest ways that any effects could be dealt with.

What is currently not changing?

The government had indicated that it would give employees the right to request flexible working from the first day of employment, rather than the existing requirement to have 26 weeks’ service. However, this change has not been made in the new legislation, although it is likely that the government will introduce this right through secondary legislation.

There is also still no statutory right to appeal a decision, although the current Acas Code of Practice recommends that it is good practice to consider any appeal. Following the changes to legislation, Acas is currently consulting on a new Code of Practice.

An employer will retain the right to refuse a flexible working request on any of the business reasons:

  • Burden of additional costs.
  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet pupils’ requirements.
  • Inability to reorganise work among existing staff.
  • Inability to recruit additional staff.
  • Detrimental impact on quality of service.
  • Detrimental impact on performance of duties.
  • Insufficiency of work during the period the employee proposes to work.
  • Planned structural changes.

Once we know the date that the measures will come into force, the CEFM template policy will be amended accordingly and published on our website.

Further information

The previous CEFM article on this legislation can be found here.

Additional useful information can be found below:

What is flexible working? – Working Families

Acas consultation on the draft Code of Practice on handling requests for flexible working – Acas

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