On 11 January 2024 ACAS published its revised Code of Practice on requests for flexible working. If it receives parliamentary approval, the Code is expected to come into effect on 6 April 2024.
The proposed changes are:
- The statutory right to request flexible working applies from the first day of employment.
- An Employee can make two statutory requests for flexible working within any 12-month period but can only have one live request at any one time.
- The requirement to consult the employee before making a decision will not apply where the employer agrees the flexible working request in full. The written decision should offer the employee an opportunity to discuss the implementation of the agreed arrangements and to set any review dates. This discussion would not be required if both parties agree it is unnecessary.
- The Code expressly provides that where an Employer cannot accept a request in full, the parties should discuss any potential modifications or alternative flexible working options that may be available and whether a trial period would be necessary to assess the feasibility of an arrangement.
- There is no statutory right of appeal against a flexible working request decision but allowing an employee to appeal is good practice. Wherever possible a different manager should be appointed to handle the appeal and an accurate written record of the appeal meeting should be made.
- The legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments is separate to the legal obligation to consider a request for flexible working.
ACAS will publish a full response to the consultation before the new Code comes into force.
Employers will need to review and update their Flexible work request policies to ensure compliance with The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 and the ACAS code ahead of the implementation date.
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