Proposed changes to Flexible Working Rights

Proposed changes to Flexible Working Rights

The Government has announced that they will be introducing new legislation extending employee’s rights in relation to requesting flexible working. Although no date has been announced for when it will come into force.


When legislation was first introduced in 2003, the right to request flexible working was only available to parents and carers who had been employed for 26 weeks. The right was later extended so that all employees could make a request once in any 12-month period even if they were not parents or carers.


The proposed changes will mean that employees have the right to make a request from day one, and be able to make two requests in any 12-month period. The right will still only apply to employees.


The reasons for rejecting a request will not change, but employers will be expected to deal with the request in two months, rather than the current three-month time frame, and to discuss alternatives if they intend to reject the request.  This could be a significant added burden for employers, and a useful tool for employees seeking to work more flexibly.


In the past flexible working was often seen a working part-time or job sharing, but it could not include working from home or hybrid working, term time only, compressed hours, or working some hours outside of normal office hours. All forms of flexible working have increased since the pandemic so it is not surprising that the government wants to give people the chance to ask to work flexibly.


The Government has however stressed that it will remain a right to request flexible working, not a right to work flexibly.

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