Changes to the Employment Relations Act 2023: how does it affect you?

The Employee Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 is now in full effect. From 6th April 2024, employees across the country have gained the right to request hybrid working from day one of their employment.

There’s more to this act than working from home, though. Businesses must understand how the changes will affect them and their staff so that new processes can be implemented quickly and fairly.

Here, employment law solicitors Beecham Peacock offer an overview on how businesses can make the most of hybrid working standards.

The new rules

Under the new act:

  • New hires can request flexible working from day one of their employment.
  • Employers must promptly consult with employees about requests, ensuring they're accompanied at meetings by a fellow employee or union rep if they wish, and discuss alternatives if an agreement isn't reached
  • If denied, the employer must give the employee a written explanation and the opportunity to appeal – refusals can only be based on specific grounds like costs or performance impact
  • Employees can now make two flexible working requests within 12 months
  • Employers must make a decision within two months of the request being submitted
  • Employees don’t have to explain the effect the request would have on their employer

Change your processes

If employers make the right changes to adapt to the new regulations, the new rules can benefit both employer and employee.

Find the key considerations highlighted by Beecham Peacock below.

Update company policies

Order a review of your business’ flexible working policy – aspects may need changing immediately.

Ensure that you’ve included all aspects of flexible working – the term covers the following:

  • Remote working
  • Job sharing
  • Annualised hours
  • Hybrid working
  • Compressed hours
  • Flexi-time
  • Part-time
  • Phased retirement
  • Staggered hours
  • Predictable hours or set shift patterns.

Improve communication

Managers and senior members of staff must feel comfortable discussing flexible working arrangements with staff. Managers should be trained to have these conversations effectively as there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Be transparent with your staff

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 doesn’t guarantee flexible working requests are fulfilled, but it does enforce that employers must consider all requests fairly and without discrimination.

Practice transparent business practice with these simple changes:

  • Change job vacancies to reflect the company’s flexible working position
  • Discuss flexible working requests during the recruitment or interview phase
  • Update employee handbooks to reflect your business’ position

Why is flexible working important to employees?

Work-life balance is crucial for employees and is a key factor in attracting top talent and enhancing performance. Flexible working, when handled well, benefits employers by fostering inclusivity and expanding the talent pool.

There’s plenty to consider when implementing structural changes to your business to accommodate the changes to this act.