In December 2022, we updated you on the Government’s latest announcement in respect of their 2019 manifesto pledge to make the right to request flexible working a ‘day one’ right and a host of other new flexible working rights. At the time, the Government had published the responses to its consultation exercise. We noted that 91% of respondents said that the right to request flexible working should become a day one right for employees.
The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill has quietly made its way through Parliament. The Bill has now completed its passage through both Houses and awaits Royal Assent, expected to be on 20 July 2023, at which stage it will be formally enacted.
The Bill has largely become synonymous with the headline that flexible working will be made a ‘Day 1 Right’. You may therefore be surprised to learn that the Act does not in fact make any change to the length of service required for employees to make a flexible working request.
Employees will still require 26 week’s service before they are able to make a flexible working request. The Government have stated that they intend to introduce the ‘Day 1’ right through secondary legislation, but that is yet to be seen. One may ask why it could not have been covered in the Act if this were the intention?
The Act will introduce changes to the way in which employees can make requests and how employers must deal with these. The Key Changes to note are:
- Employees will be able to make two flexible working requests in a 12-month period
- Employees will no longer be under an obligation to explain what effect they think the change would have
- Requests will need to be dealt with by employers within 2 months of receipt of a request
- Employers must consult with employees before they reject any flexible working request (although there is no statutory definition of what the ‘consultation’ needs to include)
In our last article we commented that we may well see the introduction of a ‘Day 1 Right’ sooner rather than later. With confirmation that the Bill has now completed its final passage through Parliament, perhaps the latter is now more likely.
If you require advice in relation to flexible working requests or any other employment matter, our experienced team are here to help.
Please contact us today to discuss how we can assist you.