international employment law firm alliance L&E Global
United Kingdom

UK: Flexible working – The New Rules

Authors: Graham Mitchell, Ruth Bonino and Sophie Jackson

The changes to the flexible working regime which are now in force are:

  1. Day one right: there is no longer a requirement to have six months’ service before making a flexible working request. All employees will be eligible to make a request from the first day of their employment.
  2. Removal of requirement to explain impact of request: there is no longer any requirement for employees to explain what effect, if any, their flexible working request might have and how any adverse effects would be addressed.
  3. Increased number of requests: employees may make up to two flexible working requests within a 12-month period.
  4. Reduced response time: employers will be required to respond to flexible working requests within 2 months, a significant reduction from the current 3-month timeframe.
  5. Mandatory consultation: there is a new requirement for employers to consult with employees on their flexible working requests before rejecting them.

ACAS has updated its Code of Practice on requests for flexible working for these changes and published new non-statutory guidance.

Tribunals must take the Code into account when deciding complaints by employees under the flexible working rules if it appears relevant.  Employers are therefore advised to follow the Code carefully when dealing with requests.

Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-House Counsel

There is still no right to work flexibly, but employers should consider requests carefully, particularly where there is a discrimination risk.

Employers should update their flexible working policies to reflect these changes and may also wish to consider training for line managers or advising them of these changes.

For more information, please read our detailed update.