12 July 2023

With the future changes coming to flexible working requests brought by the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill, Acas are seeking views on changes it can make to the flexible working code of practice.

The draft code sets out a clear explanation of the law and statutory rights of workers to request flexible working and highlights good practice for handling requests in a reasonable way. The current code was published in 2014, but with the upcoming changes to flexible working, as well as the shift in working practices towards more flexible options, it is time to review the code and update it to reflect the current environment.

To give a brief overview if you were not aware, the anticipated new Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act will:

  • require employers to consult employees before rejecting a request
  • increase the number of requests an employee can make from one to two in any 12-month period
  • remove the requirement on an employee to explain the impact of their request on the business
  • reduce the decision period on requests from three to two months.

The consultation, which runs for 12 weeks up to 6 September 2023, asks questions in these areas to determine what should be included in the new code and how it should be set out:

  • a review of the existing code
  • the foreword
  • legal terminology
  • procedural guidance
  • the statutory right to request a predictable working pattern.

As this is something that will impact all employers, we recommend that you look over the consultation and have your say if you have any opinions. You can respond using their online form or email a response to them.

The new flexible working rights are still being considered by parliament and, if passed, are expected to be implemented in 2024.

Susan Clews, Acas Chief Executive, said:

"Rapid advances in technology alongside changes to the way many people now work since the covid-19 pandemic have contributed to a substantial shift in flexible working globally.

"It has allowed more people to better balance their working lives and employers have also benefitted from being an attractive place to work for skilled staff that value flexibility.

"Our new draft Code strengthens good practice on flexible working and addresses important upcoming changes to the law. We are keen to get views to ensure that it is clear and relevant for the modern workplace."

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