New Flexible Working Rights 2023

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New Flexible Working Rights 2023
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With the Flexible Working Bill reaching Royal Assent, millions of British workers will be granted new flexible working rights over where and when they work.

What Does ‘Flexible Working’ Encompass?

Flexible working covers a broad range of factors. This includes, working hours or pattern, including part-time, term-time, flexitime, compressed hours, or adjusting start and finish times. Furthermore, flexible working encompasses where someone works. This can be from home, or a satellite office to shorten a commute.

What are the New Flexible Working Rights?

With the new Flexible Working Rights Bill, workers will have the right to request flexible working from home from the first day of employment. Employers will be required to consider any requests and provide a reason before rejecting an application for work from home. This puts 2.2 million more employees in the scope for entitlement for a change of rights.

New Flexible Working Rights Protections

Once the new bill is put into force, workers can expect the following protections:

  • New requirements for employers to consult with the employee before rejecting their flexible working request.
  • Permission to make two statutory requests in any 12-month period (rather than the current single request.)
  • Reduced waiting times for decisions to be made (within which an employer administers the statutory request) from three months to two months.
  • 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.

Reasons a Business Can Reject a Flexible Working Request

There are 8 reasons that a business can reject a flexible working request. These remain the same as before the new bill. Employers still have the final decision over whether they can reject a request provided they do so on one of the following reasons:

  • The burden of additional costs.
  • Detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand.
  • Inability to recruit additional staff.
  • Inability to reorganise work among existing staff.
  • Detrimental impact on quality.
  • Detrimental impact on performance.
  • Insufficiency of work during periods the employee proposes to work.
  • Planned structural changes.

Employers must be aware of any possibility of discrimination claims if they are refusing requests. For example, if an employee is asking for childcare reasons or if an employee is asking for medical conditions.

Benefits to British Business

In addition to the benefits flexible working provides to workers, the measures also benefit British businesses. Research has shown that companies that have embraced flexible working have attracted more talent, improved staff motivation and reduce staff turnover. Overall, flexible working has seen to boost a business’s productivity and competitiveness.

6% of Employees Change Jobs for Better Flexible Working

CIPD research shows that 6 percent of employees changes their jobs last year specifically due to a lack of flexible working. Furthermore, 12 percent of employees left their profession altogether due to a lack of flexibility in their sector. These percentages equate for 2 and 4 million workers.

Investigation into Non-Statutory Flexible Working

On the 20th July 2023, the government launched a call for evidence on non-statutory flexible working to improve on knowledge of the extent of flexible working in the labour market. The aim of the call for investigation is to increase understanding of the role of informal flexible working in meeting the needs of both employers and employees.

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Our team of employment law experts are available to provide legal advice for changing regulations. This ensures that employers maintain lawful conduct and pre-empt potential claims. For all your employment law and HR support needs, feel free to get in touch with our employment team below.

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