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Flexible working - employment update - October 16th 2023

Employers need to be aware of changes to the flexible working regime expected in summer 2024. But proposals to give employees more flexibility for paternity leave are further away.

Flexible working

The big expected change – the right to request flexible working from day one – is not included in the Flexible Working Act, which recently received Royal Assent. However, it seems as if the Government still intends to make this change. The Act includes the following changes:

  • Employees will be able to make two flexible working requests in a 12-month period (currently only one such request can be made).
  • Employers will have to consult with an employee before rejecting their request. A formal meeting will be required, with no blanket ban on flexible working requests, and a reason will have to be given if a request is rejected.
  • Employers will have to respond within two months, rather than the current three.

Flexible working doesn’t only mean working from home. An employee might, for example, wish to match working hours with their child’s school terms.

Paternity leave

The paternity leave regime currently means an employee can take two weeks of leave in the first 56 days after birth or adoption. Should the changes come into force, employees will be able to take two separate one-week blocks at any point during the first year.