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Published On: August 9, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

Changes to the Flexible Working Policy – What is it & What Will it Mean?

In a post-covid-lockdown world, flexible working has become standard practice for most employees. In fact, research has shown that today more than half (51%) of employees say that they have flexible working arrangements in their current roles.


51% of employees say that they have flexible working arrangements in their current roles


Many studies have shown that managers have a more positive view on flexible working than might have been seen pre-pandemic, with most studies citing improved productivity and motivation as some of the key benefits of adopting this flexible approach.

On 20 July 2023, the Employment Relations (Flexible working) bill received Royal Assent from the House of Lords and is expected to come into effect in 2024/25.  The new bill will implement a collection of changes to the current legislation on flexible working under the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Whilst statutory flexible working is a broad term in this context, it encompasses working hours, patterns, compressed hours and or adjusting start and finishing times to name a few.

As well as bringing benefits to workers, research shows that companies that embrace flexible working can attract more talent, improve staff motivation, and reduce staff turnover. Much of it is due to employees having a greater say over “when, where and how they work.”


What are the changes being made?

  • Eligibility conditions

Perhaps the most drastic change to the flexible working policy is that it will now be extended to all workers as of day one of their employment. This is far removed from the current need to have been continuously employed for no less than 26 weeks at the date that the request was made.


  • Making the flexible working request

There is currently great emphasis on the employee explaining the effect that they believe the arrangement might have on the business, and how, in their opinion, such an effect could be dealt with. This burden has now been taken off the employee and will no longer be a requirement when submitting requests.

We expect that this will still be needed but may require a more collaborative approach between employers and employees when agreeing to these arrangements.


  • Timescale

At present, employees are to be informed in writing of the decision on their request within three months (or longer if agreed with the employee). Under the new legislation, employers will have two months to respond to the employee.


  • Refusal or withdrawal of the request

Under the current law, employers are permitted to refuse the request without having consulted the employee. Following the changes, Consultation will need to take place between the employee and the employer to discuss the requests before a formal decision is reached which does align with current good practice.

It is clear by the changes that are being implemented that employees will be given more control over their working week. However, this change is envisaged to positively affect employers too.

Business and Trade Minister Kevin Hollinrake stated that “it makes good business sense too, helping firms attract more talent, increase retention and improve workforce diversity.”

It is clear that a happier workforce will result in better quality input from employees, therefore promoting a more balanced business environment for all.

Whilst we are yet to see the new rules implemented, it is envisaged that the pros will indeed outweigh the cons of this new way of working and will formalise practices that many employers are already allowing and seeing.

If you are unsure how to make a request for flexible working or how to deal with receipt of such a request, do not hesitate to contact our expert Employment Law team on 020 7940 3907 or who will gladly assist you further.

* Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*

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