Request flexible working from day one

The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2024 have come into effect, introducing significant changes.

Employees now have the right to request flexible working from their very first day of employment. However, it is important to note that this right only grants the ability to make a request, and employers retain the discretion to approve or deny it.

Flexible working extends beyond remote work. For instance, employees may seek to gradually reduce their hours as they approach retirement, while those with childcare or caregiving responsibilities may request to adjust their hours accordingly.

What the changes mean:

The changes that have come into effect from 6th April 2024 include:

  • Day One Request: Employees can now request flexible working from their first day on the job, previously 26 weeks of employment was required.
  • Two Requests: Within a 12-month period, employees can now submit flexible working requests twice, as opposed to the previous limit of once per year.
  • Two-Month Decision: Employers must respond to requests within two months of receipt, reducing the previous response time from three months.
  • No Employee Statement: Employees are no longer obliged to state the impact of their flexible working requests on the business, alleviating a previous challenge for new employees.

Unless the employer agrees with the request for flexible working, they must ‘consult’ with the employee before reaching a decision. The discussion can explore alternative arrangements or variations to the original request and consider whether there should be an initial trial period to assess the effectiveness of the proposed changes.

Rejecting a request

While the reasons for rejecting a flexible working request remain unchanged, employers must provide a valid business justification. These reasons may include:

  • Unacceptable additional costs due to a request.
  • It is not possible to re-organise work among other employees.
  • Detrimental impact on performance while working from home.
  • Insufficient work to accommodate a change in an employee’s working pattern.

The latest ACAS code of practice on requests for flexible working can be found on their website.

About the author

With extensive expertise spanning various HR domains, Emma brings a wealth of knowledge to the table. Her skills cover recruitment, employee relations, policy development and implementation, compliance, and strategic HR planning.

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