21 July 2023

A private members’ bill, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, has received royal assent and will now be introduced into UK regulation in England, Scotland and Wales.

We do not currently know when this is expected to come into effect, this is to be decided by the secretary of state.

The Bill makes amendments to the provisions in part 8A (sections 80F and 80G) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 to:

  • introduce a requirement for employers to consult with the employee before rejecting their flexible working request
  • allow an employee to make two statutory requests in any 12-month period (rather than the current one request)
  • reduce the decision period within which an employer is required to administer the statutory request from three months to two months
  • remove the requirement that the employee must explain in the statutory request what effect the change would have on the employer and how that might be dealt with.  

As this is now confirmed, it would be best to review internal policy and process with regards to flexible working request to see if changes need to be made. As these new rules build upon and enhance the minimum levels of due process for employees, you could even consider implementing this change before it comes into law.

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