Written by Jordan Empson

Since the pandemic, flexible working has now become the norm for most employees which has led to the Government putting the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 (‘the Regulations’) before Parliament and which are to introduced on the 6 April 2024.

In many sectors, flexible working brings many benefits to both employees and employers. Flexible working enabled businesses to continue operating during the times of lockdown and has subsequently created many opportunities for different types of businesses to flourish due to the flexible arrangements that it offers.

Flexible working includes a variety of working patterns such as (but not limited to):

  • hybrid working;
  • part time working;
  • term-time working;
  • job sharing;
  • flexitime and
  • phased retirement.

From the 6 April 2024, employees will be entitled to submit a statutory request for flexible working from the first day of their employment. This is known as a ‘day one right’ and is in comparison to the previous requirement of being employed for at least 26 weeks before making such a request.

Employees have the opportunity to make two requests in any 12-month period rather than just having one chance as was the case previously. Under the Regulations, the employer will have to make a decision regarding the request within two months of the request which again is an improvement on the current three month period.

Of critical importance, under the Regulation, is the fact that it is a ‘request’ rather than a ‘right’ to be able to work flexibly and therefore it is on the employer to manage these requests in a reasonable manner.

Understandably, there are certain business decisions and sectors which are unable to offer flexible working as an alternative to working in the office or site. As an employer cannot provide a blanket ‘no’ to such requests, it is advisable as an employer to contact a legal professional to provide assistance in dealing with any such requests in a reasonable way. In the coming year, there will be many changes that will be happening in this area.  We therefore advise that you may wish to seek advice in advance of these changes coming into force and particularly to consider ensuring that your current policies and contracts deal with the changes.

In addition, if you are an employee who wishes to submit a request or has received a refusal to such a request, you should also consider obtaining legal advice on what options are open to you.

If you need our assistance in relation to this matter or any other issues with employment, please do not hesitate to contact us.