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Changes to Flexible Working Regulations 

(The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023)

Flexible Working 

You may be aware that employees have the right to request a change to their working conditions; this can be a change of working days, hours or even the location of where they undertake their work. 

Previously, employees needed to meet a certain eligibility criteria which depended on the length of time they had worked for you, and were only able to make one statutory request in a twelve month period. However, this month, there is a significant change to this position that all employers need to be mindful of to ensure compliance.

New Position

From 6th April 2024, employees will have this legal right from day one and be allowed to make two requests in a year. This is because the law and the Acas Code of Practice on flexible working requests have changed. When we say from day one, we mean from the employee’s very first day in their job with your company; this type of request is known as ‘making a statutory application.’ If an employee decides to make a statutory application for flexible working then you, as a company, have two months to consider that request. 

Procedure

When an employee provides a formal request for flexible working, the company will need to arrange a meeting with them once their application has been submitted; the meeting will be used to discuss the working arrangements they have requested. In the meeting you will be able to explore what, if any, impact the proposed working arrangements could have on their work and the business of the company. 

We would also suggest that this type of meeting gives the company an opportunity to assess possible alternative working arrangements and sometimes it may be appropriate to explore if a new working arrangement could be undertaken on an initial trial period to ensure that they meet the needs of both the employee and the company. This way, both parties are exploring the extent of the impact and the range of possibilities to assess if a particular request is viable. 

Outcomes

In terms of an outcome the company can accept, partially accept or reject a flexible working request. The employer can only reject the request if there's a genuine business reason. As a point to note, whilst a company can reject the employee’s request for flexible working, the request can only be rejected if there is a basis under one or more of the prescribed eight legal reasons. 

The eight business reasons for which you may reject a request are: 

1) the burden of additional costs 

2) detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand 

3) inability to reorganise work among existing staff 

4) inability to recruit additional staff 

5) detrimental impact on quality 

6) detrimental impact on performance

7) insufficiency of work during the periods proposed to work 

8) planned changes

This must be judged on a case-by-case basis and a decision provided to the employee by the company within two months (or longer if agreed with the employee). We also recommend seeking our support so we are able to advise on whether there is a sound, lawful basis for a particular outcome in flexible working requests.

Next Steps

As a company, it is good practice to have a policy on flexible working and for that policy to be up to date, especially in light of the recent changes. A policy can help the company, its managers and employees discuss and agree flexible working in a consistent and beneficial way through a well-documented, transparent process. 

[Click here for the revised Flexible Working Policy]

If you believe that you have a scenario which may involve the need for a flexible working process or you have any questions about this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be able to review your flexible working policy and process with you.

Disclaimer

The information and any commentary contained within these updates are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal or any other type of professional advice. Stallard Kane does not accept and, to the extent permitted by law, exclude liability to any person for any loss which may arise from relying upon or otherwise using the information contained in these blogs. If you have a particular query or issue, you are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice about your issue and not to rely solely on the information or comments in these updates.
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