Outcome of the Government Response to the Consultation on Making Flexible Working the Default

Together we are Forbes


08 December, 2022

Alice McKenna

Flexible working remains the right to request, not to have

The Government has recently published their response to the Consultation on Making Flexible Working the Default, which closed around 12 months ago.

Key takeaways, which are a must for HR professionals and managers to be aware of, are that the Government has committed to:

  • Removing the 26-week qualifying period before employees can request flexible working;
  • For the time being, not making any changes to the current list of 8 business grounds available for employers to reject requests;
  • Requiring employers to consult with employees, as a means of exploring available options, before rejecting a request;
  • Allowing employees to make 2 requests in any 12-month period (up from 1);
  • Requiring employers to respond to requests within 2 months (down from 3);
  • Looking into developing clearer guidance and awareness raising about the ability to make temporary requests;
  • Removing the requirement for employees to set out how the effects of their request might be dealt with by their employer; and
  • Launching a call for evidence to better understand how informal or ad hoc flexible working works in practice.

Flexible working has without doubt continued and grown in importance for most employees and employers since the UK emerged from the Covid lockdowns and the overwhelming majority of the Consultation responses indicated support for flexible working and the benefits it brings.

The Consultation had responses from individuals, employers, and other bodies including think tanks, charities and advisory groups, though the results show that all groups of respondents recognised the importance of flexible working in supporting individuals into work, and respondents also acknowledged that flexible working can be beneficial to employers too.

It is unclear when the changes will be made via legislation and in force, but it is certainly something to keep an eye on. We advise that employers review their current flexible working request procedure and policies now to ensure they are prepared to implement the changes in due course, most notably being prepared to respond to requests in the shorter time frame of 2 months and being prepared and able to consider and discuss alternative arrangements before rejecting any request.

For any support with your current flexible working practices, or how to implement the forthcoming changes, please do not hesitate to contact Alice McKenna.

For more information contact Alice McKenna in our Employment & HR department via email or phone on 01254 222373. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Employment & HR department here

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