Flexible Working Update

Acas launched a consultation on updates to its statutory Code of Practice on handling requests for flexible working that closes on 6 September 2023, so this is your last chance to have a say. 

Acas has launched the consultation as it is preparing to update guidance incorporating law reforms on flexible working. The Flexible Working Bill achieved Royal Assent at the end of July 2023 and is now the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, expected to come into force in 2024.

The aim of the Code is to provide employers, employees and representatives with a clear explanation of the law on the statutory right to request flexible working, alongside good practice advice on handling requests in a reasonable manner.

The new Act means that workers will have the right to request flexible working from day one of a new job, with employers required to consider any requests and provide a reason before rejection.

Workers will benefit from the following new protections once in force:

  • New requirements for employers to consult with the employee before rejecting their flexible working request.
  • Permission to make two statutory requests in any 12-month period (rather than the current one request).
  • Reduced waiting times for decisions to be made(within which an employer administers the statutory request) from three months to two months.
  • The removal of existing requirements that the employee must explain what effect, if any, the change applied for would have on the employer and how that effect might be dealt with.

ACAS says that the updated Code “seeks to encourage a more positive approach to flexible working, through a new Foreword to the Code and an emphasis on fostering an environment in which requests are not rejected by default without open-minded consideration and meaningful dialogue”. 

They note that they are “especially keen to hear views on what guidance would be most beneficial for users on the new and important requirement for consultation with an employee before a request can be rejected”.

The updated Code also seeks to strengthen the Code's good practice messages by:

  • extending the categories of those individuals who may accompany an employee at meetings to discuss a request
  • providing guidance that employers should set out such additional information as is reasonable to help explain their decision
  • providing guidance that employers should allow an appeal where a request has been rejected.

Posted on 09/06/2023 by Ortolan

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