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New law: Employers prepare for revamp of employees’ flexible working rights

Author: Atom Content Marketing

Published: 01 Jan 2023

Employers are preparing for new rules that allow all employees to request flexible working, and not just those who have 26 weeks’ service; simplify the procedure for making a flexible working request; and require employers to discuss alternatives if they are minded to refuse a request.

The government says in its response to its 2021 consultation ‘Consultation on Making Flexible Working the Default: Government Response’ that the new law will allow employees to request flexible working without needing 26 weeks' continuous employment as they do now – so it will be a ‘day one’ right.

Flexible working can include not just working from home, or between home and office on a hybrid basis, but job-sharing, flexi-time, coming in or leaving work earlier or later, working through lunch breaks, or not working Mondays or Fridays, and all on either a permanent or temporary basis.

Employees will also be able to make two requests within a 12-month period (only one is allowed currently). The procedure for making a request will be simplified so that employees no longer have to set out how switching to flexible working might affect their employer.

Significantly, the time for employers to respond to a request will be shortened from three to two months. The government also says employers intending to refuse a request will have to discuss alternative forms of flexible working with the employee. For example, if an employer cannot accommodate leaving work earlier every day, it may be possible on certain days.

The eight grounds for refusing a request remain in force, including additional cost, inability to reallocate work to existing staff and not enough work during the hours to be worked under the request.

The government has not provided a timetable but employers may wish to assess the potential impact of the new laws on their operations.

Operative date

  • To be announced


  • Employers should check out the government response on the GOV.UK website and review their flexible working policies, including their approach to offering alternatives to an employee’s requested work pattern.

This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

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