Is your business ready for the new flexible working rules?

In the ever-evolving landscape of modern work culture, the concept of flexible working has become increasingly prevalent. Now, with the introduction of new flexible working rules in the UK, businesses are facing a pivotal moment in adapting to this shift. But what exactly do these new rules entail, and is your business prepared to embrace them?

What are the new flexible working rules?

Flexible working rules are changing from 6 April 2024. All employees will have a right to make a flexible working request from their first day of employment (a day one right). Previously, this right was only given to employees who had worked at their employer for 26 weeks.

In addition, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 will give employees the right to make two statutory flexible working requests in any 12-month period (rather than the previous one request in any 12-month period).

Other changes to flexible working are also due to come into force. These changes include:

  • new requirements for employers to consult with the employee before rejecting their flexible working request;

  • reduced waiting times for decisions to be made (within which an employer administers the statutory request) from three months to two months; and

  • 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.

Watch out for Acas’ new code of practice on flexible working that will be published soon, with guidance for employers on how to navigate the new flexible working rules. The draft version of the code can be found here.

What steps should my business take?

The new UK flexible working rules represent a significant milestone in the evolution of modern work practices. By embracing flexibility and adapting to these changes, businesses can position themselves for long-term success and retain top talent. Is your business ready to embrace the future of work? Now is the time to assess your readiness and take proactive steps to ensure your business thrives in the era of flexible working. To do this, you should implement a flexible working policy.

A flexible working policy is a set of guidelines and procedures established by a business to govern flexible work arrangements for its employees. The flexible working policy will set out the business’s legal obligations in relation to flexible working requests, and tell employees the process that they should follow if they want to make a request. You should clearly communicate the policy to all employees and provide guidance on how to request flexible working

Having a clear policy in place not only provides guidance to employees in a clear and transparent manner, but enables employers to meet their legal obligations under flexible working rules. It is crucial that a business has a clear policy in place that it can follow if it receives a flexible working request, to ensure that the business complies with the new UK flexible working rules.

As well as impacting the ability to recruit and retain top talent, failing to comply with the flexible working rules can result in claims from employees, who can seek compensation before an employment tribunal (up to a maximum of eight week’s pay, where a week’s pay is capped at the prevailing statutory rate). Discrimination claims could also be brought where requests are not treated fairly. Make sure you know how to comply with flexible working rules and put in place a flexible working policy.

How can Docue help?

Docue’s flexible working policy allows businesses to create a top-quality document in minutes. The service includes model content designed by lawyers to help you draft the policy yourself and tailor it to your needs. And don’t worry if you get stuck along the way - Docue’s lawyer-drafted guidance notes are there to help you navigate through the process.

Tags: flexible working rules, changes to employment law, UK employment law, UK flexible working law.

Docue's Legal Team