The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill receives royal assent

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill received royal assent yesterday (20 July 2023), meaning it becomes the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 (the Act).

When the Act comes into force it will bring the following changes to the current statutory flexible working regime:

  • employees will be able to make two flexible working requests within a 12 month period (currently they are limited to making one);
  • employers will need to make a decision in relation to a flexible working request within two months of the request being made (currently this is within 3 months);
  • employers will not be able to refuse a flexible working request until they have consulted with an employee (at this stage there is no further information in the legislation about what such consultation must involve); and
  • the removal of the requirement for employees to set out what the impact of their flexible working request might be, and how this might be dealt with.

It is important to note that, although there has been a lot of discussion about it in the media, the Act does not provide for the right to make a flexible working request to become a ‘day one’ right, as opposed to an employee needing to have at least 26 weeks’ service. The Government has confirmed that it will introduce this change, but it is not covered by this piece of legislation and is expected to be contained in separate secondary legislation.

It is expected that the measures in the Act, together with any secondary legislation, will come into force in a year’s time, to give employers time to prepare for the change. The Act will be supported by a statutory Code of Practice which is to be delivered by Acas and is currently under consultation. We will keep you updated in this regard.

The Government’s publication can be found here.

If you have any questions in relation to flexible working, or any employment law matter, please contact Catherine Hope at or 0191 226 3801.

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