The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (“BEIS”) published the government’s response to its flexible working consultation.
The response confirms that employees will gain the right to request flexible working from the first day of their employment.
The report states that removing the current 26-week qualifying period will make the right to request flexible working accessible to more employees (an estimated additional 2.2 million people), supporting labour market participation and improving workforce diversity.
Whilst the legislation remains a right to request, not a right to have, it is also recognised that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to flexible working and constructive conversations between employers and employees to find arrangements that work for both parties are encouraged.
In addition to making the right to request flexible working a day-one right, the Government has confirmed that:
– Employees will be permitted to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period (rather than one);
– Employers will have to respond to requests within two months (down from three);
– Employers will be required to consult with employees, as means of exploring the alternative options, before rejecting a flexible working request;
– The requirement for employees to set out how the effects of their flexible working request might be dealt with by their employer will be removed; and
– The eight business reasons for refusing a flexible working request will remain valid.
Enhanced guidance has also been promised to improve understanding of how to make and administer temporary requests for flexible working.
Currently there is no timeline for when the changes will be brought in but we will keep you updated.