The Flexible Working Bill: What You Need to Know
The aim of these changes is to provide work-life balance for those who need it the most, such as working parents and people with disabilities, as well as encouraging staff retention and getting more people back into work.
What is the Flexible Working Bill?
- The government has introduced a new law that means employees are entitled to request flexible working from day one of their employment, this previously only being after 26 weeks.
- Flexible working can define different working patterns, such as working part-time or different hours or working hybrid or remotely.
- An employee can now make a flexible working request twice in a 12-month period (previously once).
These changes come into effect in the Spring of 2025.
What are your duties as an employer?
- If your employee makes a flexible working request, you must respond within a 2-month period (previously 3).
- You must formally sit down with the employee to discuss this before a decision can be made.
- You must explore all viable options with the staff member and, if denying the request, you must provide a valid reason as to why.
How can you prepare for these changes?
Adjusting company policies early can encourage less confusion when the law actually comes into effect. Review documents such as your employee handbook and identify any points that may need to be changed.
Communicate these changes to all line managers within the business, providing clear training on how they should approach any request they may receive.
Start an open conversation about flexible working to understand how it might help employees and how they believe a flexible pattern could fit their role.
How can I reject a request?
Before rejecting a request, you should try to compromise where possible and find potential other options, such as accepting the request on a temporary basis or offering a different model of flexibility.
According to ACAS, a request can only be turned down if:
- It will cost your business too much.
- You cannot reorganise the work among other staff.
- You cannot recruit more staff.
- There will be a negative effect on quality.
- There will be a negative effect on the business’s ability to meet customer demand.
- There will be a negative effect on performance.
- There’s not enough work for your employee to do when they’ve requested to work.
- There are planned changes to the business, for example, you intend to reorganise or change the business and think the request will not fit with these plans.
For more information, you can read full legislation details here or visit the ACAS website here.
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