The Employment Relations Act 2023 receives Royal Assent
Joanna Rose · August 24th 2023 · read
Another bill has received Royal Assent. The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 will make the following changes to the current arrangements for Flexible Working Requests:
- Currently employees can only make one request in a rolling 12-month period; this will be increased to two
- Currently employees are obliged to set out in their request how they think the request will impact on the employer and how they think the employer could accommodate it; this obligation will no longer be in place
- Currently employers are required to meet with the employee (unless they can just grant the request without further discussion) and can decline the request if one or more of the statutory grounds apply (requirement for continuity, inability to provide working during the times requested etc). Employers will now have a direct obligation to consult with the employee, setting out why they are declining the request and giving the employee an opportunity to make counter-arguments
- Currently, employers have three months in which to conclude a Flexible Working Request process; this will be reduced to two
It was previously indicated that Flexible Working Requests would become a “day one” right. This is not set out in the proposed new Act; however, secondary legislation may bring this into force in the future.
Employers should note that even if they decline a request on one of the statutory grounds, if the refusal is not reasonable or the employer has not fully researched alternative options, they could be vulnerable to claims for indirect sex discrimination.
HR Solutions can draft a Flexible Working Requests policy for you and can advise you on individual requests, including how to conduct the meeting and supplying all relevant template letters.