- Written by
- Lydia Button, Trainee Solicitor
The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 has recently completed its journey through Parliament and is awaiting Royal Assent. This Act introduces noteworthy changes that aim to enhance work-life balance for employees. However, while the Act brings forth commendable improvements, it also falls short in addressing critical concerns, leaving room for further refinement in the future.
Key Changes Introduced by the Act:
- Increased Flexibility Requests: Employees can now submit two flexible working requests within any 12-month period.
- Timely Response from Employers: Employers must address these requests within 2 months from receipt unless an extension is agreed upon.
- Mandatory Consultation: Employers cannot outright reject a request without first engaging in a 'consultation' process with the employee. However, the Act does not specify the minimum requirements for this consultation.
- Simplified Application Process: Employees are no longer required to explain the potential impact of their request on the company, or how it will be managed.
Unaddressed Areas of Concern:
- Delayed Day 1 Rights: The Act does not provide Day 1 rights for flexible working; employees still need 26 weeks of service before making a request. Although, this is due to be covered in secondary legislation.
- Lack of Appeal Process: Employers are not required to offer an appeal process for rejected requests, despite it being recommended in the ACAS Code of Practice on Flexible Working.
- Insufficient Consultation Standards: There is no specific requirement for substantive consultation or coverage of options available to the employee concerned.
The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 is a progressive step towards fostering a more flexible and employee-centric work environment. However, it fails to address Day 1 rights and the requirement of an appeal process. If you need assistance or advice on the contents of this article, please contact the Employment Team at Thackray Williams LLP on 020 8290 0440.
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