As you will likely have seen in the news in recent days, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill has passed its third reading in the House of Lords and will become law.
Up until now, workers must have had 26 weeks of continuous service to make applications for hybrid working (whether that be to change their work location, hours or pattern) – however the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill will change that significantly.
Below are some of the key points and changes that will come as a result of the new Bill:
- Employees will no longer have to explain in their applications what effect they think the request will have on the employer.
- Two flexible working requests can be made in a 12-month period (instead of one).
- Employers will have to respond to requests within two months (instead of the current three months – this can still be longer if agreed with the employee); and
- Employers will have to consult with the employee if they decline a request (it is good practice to discuss alternative options if a request cannot be fulfilled but this is not set out in the legislation).
The right to request as a day-one right is due to be implemented by further legislation.
Acas is therefore updating its statutory Code of Practice on handling requests for flexible working in a reasonable manner. They are consulting to ensure the new Code is as relevant, clear and as helpful as possible to assist employers, representatives and employees to understand the law and what good practice on handling requests for flexible working in a reasonable manner looks like.
The consultation closes on 6 September 2023. More information is available here.
For many people hybrid working has become an integral part of their routine since the pandemic, but the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill adds legal considerations for employers and employees.