Changes to flexible working requests

Posted on February 14th, 2024

The introduction of The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 and The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023, both of which come into effect on 6 April 2024, make significant changes to flexible working requests.

The key changes and the implications for both employers and employees are considered in this article.


One of the key changes under this legislation is that employers must consult with employees who submit flexible working requests, and they cannot automatically reject requests.

The legislation does not specify the details of the consultation process and employers should consult in accordance with the Acas code of practice (currently awaiting parliament approval). The Acas code states that a formal meeting should take place and that it should be conducted in a way that allows ‘a reasonable discussion and consideration of the request’.

Day-one right

Employees currently must have 26 weeks’ service before being eligible to request flexible working. Under the new legislation, employees will have the right to make a request from the very first day of their employment. This change offers employees greater flexibility.

Two requests in any 12-month period

Another important change is that employees will now have the right to make up to two flexible working requests within a 12-month period. This increased flexibility enables employees to adapt their work schedules in response to changing circumstances.

Effects of flexible working request

Previously, employees had to outline how their proposed working patterns might affect their role or their employer, along with proposals as to how any potential impact could be mitigated. The new legislation has removed this requirement.

Rejecting an application

The legislation does not create an automatic right to work flexibly and the statutory grounds for rejecting an application remain unchanged:

  • Extra costs that will damage the business.
  • The work cannot be reorganised among other staff.
  • People cannot be recruited to do the work.
  • Flexible working will affect quality and performance.
  • The business will not be able to meet customer demand.
  • There is a lack of work to do during the proposed working times.
  • The business is planning changes to the workforce.

However, employers should provide written explanations for their decisions, ensuring transparency and accountability.

Decision timeline

Under the new legislation, employers must make a decision regarding a flexible working request within a two-month timeframe, as opposed to the previous three-month period. This change emphasises the importance of timely responses, which benefits employees seeking flexibility, as well employers needing to plan efficiently.

Acas code of practice

Following a period of consultation, Acas has published a new code of practice to guide employers and employees in handling flexible working requests. Although the Acas code is pending approval from parliament, it is expected to remain unchanged. Once approved, it will be effective from 6 April 2024. The draft Acas code can be found here.


In conclusion, the new legislation introduces significant changes that promote more accessible and streamlined processes for flexible working requests. These changes prioritise open communication between employees and employers, emphasising adaptability and timely decision-making.

Schools should familiarise themselves with these changes to ensure compliance and successful implementation. The CEFM template flexible working policy has been amended accordingly and is available on the CEFMi website.

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