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The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 will soon make changes to the right to request flexible working, and all of the indications through legal commentary suggest that the changes will come into force from 6 April 2024.

The changes will mean that:

– Employees will no longer have to explain what effect their requested change may have on their employer and how any such effect might be dealt with;
– Employees will be entitled to make two requests (instead of one) in any 12-month period;
– Employers will not be able to refuse a request unless the employee has been consulted; and
– Employers will have to make a decision in two months (reduced from three months), subject to agreeing a longer decision period.

Separately, the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 will introduce a “day one” right to request flexible working (in place of the current requirement for 26 weeks’ continuous employment to qualify for the right) in respect of flexible working requests made on or after 6 April 2024, and this date is confirmed.

Importantly, the eight business reasons currently allowed for refusing a statutory flexible working request will remain unchanged.

The Acas Code of Practice on handling requests for flexible working has been updated and is available here. It is expected to come into force on 6 April 2024.

Despite the general anticipation of the changes coming in from 6 April 2024, we have yet to see the legislation that will actually bring them into force.   We assume that we will see that within the next few days but we will need to watch this space.

Employers will want to make themselves aware of these changes and should review and update their flexible working policies to reflect the changes.

Please get in touch with your usual Employment contact should you need any help.

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