HomeEmployee ExperienceCultureUnderstanding and preparing for the upcoming UK’s Flexible Working Law

Understanding and preparing for the upcoming UK's Flexible Working Law

  • 3 Min Read

The UK government has announced that new flexible working regulations will come into effect on 6 April 2024. These regulations, known as the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023, will significantly change the way employers handle flexible working requests. Under the current law, employees must have been employed for at least 26 weeks before they can […]

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The UK government has announced that new flexible working regulations will come into effect on 6 April 2024.

These regulations, known as the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023, will significantly change the way employers handle flexible working requests.

Under the current law, employees must have been employed for at least 26 weeks before they can request flexible working arrangements. However, the new regulations will allow employees to make such requests from their first day of employment.

Flexible working can include changes to working patterns or hours, such as part-time, flexi-time, term time, compressed hours, and adjusting start and finish times. It can also refer to changes in location, such as working from home.

The new regulations are part of wider changes made in the Act, which gained royal assent in July and are also expected to come into force in April. The Act will require employers to consult with the employee when they make a flexible working request before rejecting it.

The time employers have to respond to a request will be reduced to two months, from the current three months. Additionally, they can no longer refuse a request without explanation as previously allowed. Employees will also be able to make two requests within a 12-month period, compared to the single request they are currently allowed.

Getting ready

To prepare for these changes, employers should start by reviewing their current flexible working policies and ensuring they align with the new regulations. Employers should anticipate a higher volume of flexible working requests and have in place effective processes to review and respond to applications promptly. Training managers to handle these requests effectively and empathically is equally important.


HR leaders should develop training modules that include scenarios and role-play exercises for managers, focusing on how to objectively evaluate and respond to flexible working requests. Training should also cover effective communication strategies for remote or hybrid teams, ensuring team cohesion and productivity.

Additionally, focus on outcome-based performance metrics, shifting away from traditional time-based evaluations. For instance, managers could learn to set specific project goals and assess the quality of work delivered, rather than merely tracking hours logged, fostering a more results-oriented work culture.

Employers should view the changes as an opportunity to reassess and enhance their operational models. This includes investing in technology that supports remote or hybrid work, redesigning workspaces to accommodate flexible schedules, and fostering a culture where output and results are valued over traditional working hours.

It’s crucial to establish clear communication channels that encourage open dialogue about flexible working preferences. Employers should clearly communicate the level of flexibility they can offer in job adverts, such as remote working or hybrid working. This is the best way for employers to find staff who will genuinely thrive in the working environment they offer.

Ensure that the language used in employment contracts and relevant policies clearly articulates the employee’s rights to request flexible working from day one, the process for making such requests, and the conditions under which they can be denied. It is crucial that these documents reflect a commitment to fairness and transparency, offering clear guidance to both employees and management on how flexible working requests will be handled under the new legislation.

Finally, employers should consider the impact on the business of accepting or rejecting flexible working requests. There are eight fair reasons for refusing flexible working requests, and employers should think about these before making a decision. Acas will be publishing an updated statutory code of practice on requests for flexible working for employers to consult, which will be taken into account by employment tribunals.

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