Flexible working law changes


 UK Government image of young working woman stood with a tablet in her hand and with text next to her reading, 'Make FLEXIBLE WORKING Your Business'.Flexible working laws are changing from 6 April for British businesses. Here’s how to prepare.

Does your business employ people? If the answer is ‘yes’, you will need to change how you manage flexible working requests from your employees.  All employees have the legal right to request flexible working – not just parents and carers.

From 6 April 2024 employees will be able to make a statutory request to make permanent changes to their contract from their first day of employment. This means that from day one, they can ask an employer for changes to how long, when and where they work.

Employees will also be able to make two requests in any twelve-month period, rather than the current one request.

In addition, you will be required to make a decision on the request within two months of receiving it. Currently you have three months.

Should you feel unable to accept the request, you will need to consult with your employee.

The changes introduced on 6 April will also mean that your employee will no longer have to explain what effect, if any, the flexible working request would have on your organisation and how it could be overcome.

As an employer, you must manage these requests in a reasonable manner. You can only reject a request for one of eight business reasons, check the reasons for rejecting a request here.

The benefits of flexible working for businesses

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) suggests some of the direct and indirect benefits to flexible working both for businesses and employees.

What is flexible working?

Working flexibly enables opportunities to work that suits the employer’s and employee’s needs. Options include, but are not limited to:

  • Job sharing - Two (or more) people doing one job and splitting the hours.
  • Remote working - Working from anywhere other than a permanent office (for example, from home).
  • Hybrid working - A combination of working remotely and in the employer’s workspace
  • Part time - Working less than full-time hours (usually by working fewer days).
  • Compressed hours - Working full-time hours but over fewer days (for example, a 9-day fortnight).
  • Flexitime - The employee chooses when to start and end work (within agreed limits) but works certain ‘core hours’ (for example 10am to 4pm every day).
  • Annualised hours - The employee works a certain number of hours over the year but they have flexibility about when they work. There are sometimes ‘core hours’ which the employee regularly works each week, and they work the rest of their hours flexibly or when there’s extra demand at work. 
  • Staggered hours - The employee has different start, finish and break times from other workers.
  • Predictable hours or set shift pattern - The employee has set hours they work instead of hours that may change week to week or day to day. It may be set hours for a whole week or part of a week.
  • Phased retirement - Default retirement age has been phased out and older workers can choose when they want to retire. This means they can reduce their hours and work part time.

Steps your business can take right now to support flexible working

Are you Happy to Talk Flexible Working?

With the support of the UK Government and Flexible Working Taskforce, the charity Working Families is promoting the ‘Happy to Talk Flexible Working’ strap line and logo for employers to use in their job adverts and recruitment.

Read the guidance and download the logo and strap line here.

Further guidance and support

Jobcentre Plus

Jobcentre Plus can offer a wide range of advice and tailored solutions for employers throughout the recruitment process.

Advice from Acas

Acas provides advice on employment law, HR processes and good practice at work for employers in England, Scotland and Wales.

Menopause and the workplace

Resources for employers and their workers who are seeking menopause-related guidance.

Flexible Working Taskforce

Image showing flexible working partners logos: ACAS, CBI, CMI, FSB, Timewise, Scope, AgeUK, MakeUK, TUC, BCC, REC, CarersUK, CIPD, Equality and Human Rights Commission, IoD and Working Families.