The UK government has recently passed the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, which received Royal Assent on 20th July 2023. This Act was introduced in response to the changing work patterns caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly with many employees now working from home.
It grants employees the right to request variations to their terms and conditions of employment, including working hours, locations, and schedules.
At MGSDPro, we believe it is crucial for companies employing or considering employees in the UK to understand the key aspects of the Act and how they might affect their operations and policies soon. Let’s delve into an overview of the Act and its potential impact.
Overview of the Act:
The primary purpose of the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 is to make it easier for employees to make flexible working requests (FWR). While it does not grant an absolute right to work flexibly, the Act aims to promote open discussions between employers and employees to find the most suitable approach to flexible working based on individual industry needs.
Employee’s Right to Request Flexible Working: Under the new Act, your employees now have the right to request flexible working arrangements. This means they can ask for changes in their working hours, locations, or even the times they work. As an employer, you are required to consider these requests seriously and engage in a consultation process with the employee.
Limit on the Number of Applications: The Act introduces a limit on the number of flexible working applications an employee can make to the same employer within a 12-month period. An employee may submit up to two applications during this time frame.
Reduced Response Time: Employers are now required to respond to flexible working requests within two months. It’s essential to make timely decisions on these requests, whether they are approved, refused, or an agreement is reached with the employee.
Tracking Applications: Employers must keep track of flexible working applications. Any applications made before the Act’s commencement within a 12-month period should be considered when determining the number of applications made by an employee.
Legal Compliance: To ensure compliance with the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, it is crucial for your company to review and update your policies and procedures related to flexible working arrangements.
Qualifying Period: The Act maintains the 26-week continuous employment requirement before employees can make an FWR.
Note: During the parliamentary discussions on the Bill, there were talks about potentially granting employees a ‘Day 1’ right to request flexible working. However, it appears that this provision did not make it into the final Act. Despite this, the Government has expressed its intention to introduce secondary legislation to enforce the ‘Day 1’ right. As of now, this legislation has not been implemented. The Government’s press release states that they anticipate both pieces of legislation to come into effect approximately one year after receiving Royal Assent for the Act.
Explanation Requirement: The Act removes the need for employees to explain the effects of flexible working on the employer and how any potential impact might be mitigated.
The Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service (ACAS) is updating its Code of Practice to reflect the reforms introduced by the Act. ACAS encourages employers to engage during the consultation period to provide feedback on the draft of the updated code. The consultation period is ongoing and will close on 6th September 2023.
How This Could Impact You:
Formalizing Flexible Working Policies: You might already have flexible working policies in place. However, this Act adds a legal framework that formalizes employees’ rights to request flexible arrangements. Be prepared to handle such requests fairly and transparently, ensuring you engage in consultation with the employees involved.
Increase in Flexible Working Applications: The Act can also lead to an increase in flexible working applications from your employees. While we acknowledge your commitment to fostering a flexible work environment, it is essential to strike a balance between accommodating these requests and maintaining your company’s productivity and efficiency.
As your trusted partner, MGSDPro, we want to keep you informed about changes that may impact your business. The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 aims to enhance the rights of employees and their ability to request flexible working arrangements. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the Act’s provisions and how it may affect your company’s policies and practices.
As a company, you may already have a foundation for flexible working arrangements. Embracing flexible working beyond the statutory requirements presents opportunities for growth. Reports indicate that flexible working leads to higher employee engagement and can reduce turnover rates by as much as 87%. Moreover, promoting flexible working aligns with diversity and inclusion efforts, providing employees with carer responsibilities or disabilities the opportunity to fully engage with their work.
How MGSD Pro can support you.
As an expert recruitment and Employer of Record (EOR) company, MGSDPro specializes in aiding businesses. We offer end-to-end recruitment solutions to help companies find highly skilled talent and streamline their hiring processes. We tailor solutions to meet the recruitment and marketing needs of organizations. Our services include providing exceptional talent through a robust selection process, offering flexible EOR services to ensure compliance with local laws, managing payroll and tax obligations, handling benefits administration, and providing guidance on employment contracts and HR documentation.
By partnering with MGSD Pro, businesses can access skilled talent, streamline their operations, and focus on driving business growth without the hassles of managing complex HR processes.
A remote first talent agency with a focus on technology, MGSD Pro, provides a range of services to help businesses.
We would love an opportunity to support extending your talent pool through our services.
We understand that building a robust talent pool is a priority. This could include testing the Bulgarian market, where there is a wealth of exceptional tech talent or supporting you through our EOR services in over 150 countries. In today’s ever-evolving business landscape, the success of any company hinges on its ability to attract and retain top-tier talent.
We look forward to the opportunity to assist you in extending your talent pool and achieving your business objectives.