Last December we published a blog on the government’s proposed changes to the law around flexible working requests by employees, which set out the current law and the changes the government intended (at that time) to introduce.

The resultant Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill has now completed its journey through parliament and the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 is currently awaiting Royal Assent.

Once the Act officially becomes law, the Secretary of State will pass secondary legislation specifying the date on which the changes will take effect.

What is changing?

  • Employees will now be entitled to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period rather than only one.
  • Employers will be obliged to respond to flexible working requests within two (rather than three) months of receiving the request unless the employee and the employer agree to an extension.
  • Employers are now required to consult with an employee making a flexible working request before refusing that request. At present the Act does not specify what such consultation should include.
  • Employees no longer need to explain (as part of a flexible working request) what effect they think it would have for the employer to agree to the request and how such effect could be dealt with.

In our above-referenced blog, we mentioned that the government’s stated intention at that time was to introduce a “day one” right to make a flexible working request – currently employees must have worked with an employer for 26 weeks or more to bring a request of this kind. This erstwhile proposal has not ultimately been incorporated into the Act*.

Importantly for individuals considering making a flexible working request, there is still no obligation for employers to accept their request. Employers are still able to rely on the 8 statutory grounds for refusal, which are set out here.

These changes could well increase the number of flexible working requests employers will receive, once the Act becomes law, but may make little impact on the number of successful requests.




*Ultimately, the right to bring a flexible working request from the outset of employment was introduced in the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023, which came into force on 6 April 2024.