New Flexible Working Arrangements Rules

There has been a substantial shift to flexible working and the need for workers to achieve a better work-life balance over the past few years. The government’s Flexible Working Bill is set to improve workers’ rights to request flexible working hours. The Bill has achieved Royal assent which means that it will become an Act of law.

Acas has updated the statutory Code of Practice for handling flexible working requests also. This is partially because the existing code was published in 2014 and there have been significant changes in ways of working as well as proposed law changes in the new Bill since then. The fast pace of advances in technology as well as a residual effect of the pandemic has led to more people working remotely nowadays.

What Is Flexible Working and What Are the Benefits?

Flexible working can be described as any form of work that is adjusted to suit your needs, whether health needs, transport issues, or family obligations and arrangements. 

There are different types of flexible working including working part-time, working from home, or job sharing, which is where two people share a job and split the hours. Other forms of flexible working can involve compressed hours, where you work full-time hours but over fewer days, or staggered hours, where an employee has different start, break and finish times according to their needs. There is also flexi-time where an employee chooses the hours they work within an agreed timeframe and whilst maintaining certain times as ‘core hours’.

The benefit of all this is that the jobs market becomes more accessible to those who may otherwise not have considered working due to other commitments or those who need to balance priorities. It also gives people the right to make reasonable requests when they may have faced barriers to work due to disability or health issues. In addition, workers can achieve a better work-life balance which improves their chances of staying in employment and reduces the reliance on state assistance. Businesses benefit from having a varied pool of prospective employees. 

Ultimately, the government hopes that by encouraging employers to be more accessible, the British economy will get a boost as well.

The New Flexible Working Rules

One of the biggest proposed changes to flexible working rules is the right to request flexible working from the first day of employment in a new job. Previous rules required workers to have been employed for at least 26 weeks before making such a request. This change alone will improve the flexibility that workers have over when and where they work. 

Other changes include requirements for employers to consider and consult in confidence with employees before rejecting flexible working requests. Workers also have permission to make two requests within a 12-month period as opposed to one request which is the current rule. Another protection that is being proposed is the removal of the requirement for an employee to explain how their flexible working request may affect the employer. Employers will need to make a decision about the flexible working arrangement request within two months instead of the previous three-month requirement. 

The government believes that encouraging flexible working not only improves the lives of workers but also benefits businesses as well by increasing motivation and productivity in the workplace. When these new rules come into force, employers must ensure that their policies and working practices are updated in order to comply with employment laws.

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