Surge in Flexible Working Requests Expected

April 2, 2024

By Fflur Jones

On 6 April, the law relating to flexible working requests will change. This is happening at the same time as a raft of other employment law changes. We’ve set out the full changes coming into force in April here.

 

What is changing?

From 6 April, the following changes will come into force:

  • The right to make a flexible working request will become a day one right. This means that, unlike at present where employees must wait until they’ve been employed for at least 6 months before they can make a request, from now on they will be able to request to work flexibly from their very first day in the job.
  • The number of requests that an employee can make in a year will double. At present, an employee can only make 1 flexible working request in a 12-month period. From 6 April however, employees will now be able to make 2 requests in a 12-month period.
  • The time that an employer has to respond to a flexible working request will reduce by a third. At the moment, employers have 3 months to respond to a request, but from 6 April, employers will only have 2 months.

What impact is this likely to have?

In the past year or so, our employment solicitors have already seen a considerable increase in clients receiving flexible working requests. One of the reasons for this is the re-adjusting working landscape following the pandemic, with employees used to greater flexibility and employers looking to bring more employees into physical workplaces more often. These April changes however are likely to cause a further increase.

 What should you do right now?

  • Update your flexible working policy to reflect the new laws. Get in touch with us if you need help with this.
  • Ensure that your updated policy is kept somewhere accessible to staff – e.g. as part of a staff handbook on an intranet or shared folder.
  • Ensure that your managers and HR teams are familiar with your processes for dealing with requests (e.g. through training and good communication). This is the best way to ensure a consistent approach to requests. After all, a real legal risk arises when flexible working requests are dealt with inconsistently.
  • Seek legal advice with any tricky cases – e.g. where a request presents discrimination. An example might be when a flexible working request is made in connection with someone’s disability.

 

If you require any further advice on flexible working requests, contact a member of our employment team, Fflur Jones on 02920 829 117 or fjones@darwingray.com for a free initial chat to see how we can help you.

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