Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill receives Royal Assent
The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill received Royal Assent on 20 July. When section 1 of the Act comes into force, sections 80F (right to request contract variation) and 80G (employer's duties in relation to application) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 will be amended so that:
- An employee will no longer have to explain what effect, if any, they think their requested change will have and how this should be dealt with.
- An employee will be entitled to make two requests in any 12-month period.
- An employer won't be permitted to refuse a request unless the employee has been consulted with.
- The time for an employer to come to a decision on a request will be reduced from three to two months.
The government expects section 1 of the Act and secondary legislation to come into force in approximately a year's time, to give employers time to prepare. In determining the number of requests an employee has made during a 12-month period, a request made before section 1 comes into force will count.
The government has reiterated that the right to request flexible working will become a "day one" right at some stage, although this is not an amendment made by the Act and will require secondary legislation to remove the current 26 weeks' continuous employment qualifying requirement.
Acas issued a consultation on an updated statutory Code of Practice on 12 July 2023. It will also update the non-statutory Acas Guidance which accompanies the Code.