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How Do I Ensure Compliance and Avoid Potential Legal Issues with New Flexible Working Legislation?

Updated: Apr 16


A document and pen on a desk. The documnet is titles Flexible Work Schedule Agreement

In a significant development for the UK labour market, the government has

introduced new legislation that allows employees to request flexible working

arrangements from their first day of employment, effective from 6th April 2024.


The changes represent a shift in the way we approach work-life balance and

accommodate the evolving needs of workers.



What’s New in the Legislation?


Before the changes, employees needed to have at least 26 weeks of service to

make a statutory request for flexible working. The new legislation, however,

grants this right from day one.


In addition, employees can now make two requests for flexible working in any

twelve-month period, rather than being limited to one request per year.


Employers are required to make a decision on the request within two months of

receiving it. Previously employers had three months to make a decision on the

request.


Another crucial change is that employees no longer need to explain the potential

impact of the flexible working request on their employer or how any such impact

could be addressed. This reduces the burden of proof on the employee and

encourages a more open dialogue between employer and employee.



Benefits for Employees and Employers


The new legislation empowers employees to strike a better work-life balance by

enabling them to tailor their working arrangements to suit their individual needs.

This flexibility can improve overall wellbeing, boost employee satisfaction, and

increase productivity.


For employers, the legislation presents an opportunity to attract and retain top

talent by demonstrating their commitment to supporting a healthy work-life

balance. Additionally, embracing flexible working practices can lead to many

other benefits, including;


Increased employee engagement


Trusting employees to work flexibly fosters a culture of autonomy, respect, and

collaboration, resulting in stronger, more cohesive teams.


Reduced absenteeism


With more control over their work, employees are likely to experience less stress

and anxiety, leading to improved mental wellbeing.


Higher job satisfaction


When given the freedom to choose how and when to work, employees feel

valued and trusted, leading to increased job satisfaction and loyalty.


By embracing flexible working, UK businesses can empower their employees,

boost productivity, and create happier, healthier, and more sustainable

workplaces!



Challenges for Employers


While the benefits of flexible working are well documented, the legislation also

presents challenges for employers. Updating new policies and processes to

manage all requests, which are compliant with new employment legislation. And

managing and processing multiple requests in a shorter timeframe may strain

HR resources. Additionally, accommodating flexible working arrangements may

necessitate changes to existing work structures and processes.


Employers will need to adopt robust and equitable policies to ensure that flexible

working arrangements are implemented fairly and consistently across the

organisation. It is also crucial to maintain effective communication channels to

address any potential concerns or conflicts arising from the new arrangements.


In conclusion, the new flexible working legislation marks an exciting development

for the UK labour market, offering significant benefits to both employees and

employers. While the changes may pose challenges, embracing flexible working

practices can ultimately lead to a more engaged, productive, and satisfied

workforce.



Employment Tribunal Case Study


An Employees Flexible Working Request was Indirect Discrimination 

Alice Thompson Wins £185,000 Discrimination Pay-out


The Facts:


Alice was employed as a sales manager by a small independent estate

agency firm. The normal working hours of the office were 9.00am to 6.00pm.

When Alice returned from maternity leave, she applied to modify her working

hours in order to accommodate the closing time of the nursery that her child

attended. 


She submitted a request to finish at 5pm instead of 6pm so that she could

pick her child up from nursery in time.


The employer refused the request, detailing 5 business reasons for their

decision.  


When this application was refused, Alice resigned and filed several claims.


The Judgement


In Mrs Alice Thompson v Scancrown Ltd T/a Manors, the Employment

Tribunal found that refusing an employee’s flexible working request to modify

her working hours to accommodate her childcare responsibilities was indirect

sex discrimination.


The Tribunal upheld the indirect discrimination claim and found that the

employer's failure to consider the flexible working request put the claimant at

a disadvantage as this meant she was unable to collect her child from

nursery.


Alice was found to have been indirectly discriminated against on the grounds

of sex and was awarded £184,961.32 for loss of earnings, loss of pension

contributions, injury to feelings, and interest.




 

Empower Your Managers with Our Essential Flexible Working

Request Toolkit


With the new UK legislation from 6 th April 2024 granting employees the right to

request flexible working arrangements from day one, and the requirement for

employers to consult with an employee who makes a flexible working request.


It's crucial for businesses to be well prepared to handle these requests

effectively.


Our toolkit provides a practical and efficient approach to help your organisation

navigate these changes with confidence and ease.


What's Included?


  • Flexible Working Policy: Our easy-to-follow policy will help your managers understand the legal framework, evaluate requests fairly, and communicate decisions effectively.

  • Customisable Templates: Access to ready-to-use forms and letter templates for processing and responding to flexible working requests, saving valuable time and ensuring consistency.

  • Bitesize Training Video: Equip your managers with essential skills and knowledge to manage flexible teams effectively through our engaging online training module.


Benefits of Our Flexible Working Toolkit:


  • Improved Manager Confidence: Equip your managers with the tools and knowledge they need to handle flexible working requests confidently and efficiently.

  • Boosted Employee Satisfaction: Demonstrate your commitment to employee wellbeing and work-life balance, leading to higher job satisfaction and retention rates.

  • Legal Compliance: Ensure that your organisation complies with the latest legislation and avoids potential legal issues. Including, how to lawfully accept or reject a request for flexible working.

  • Enhanced Company Reputation: Showcase your forward-thinking approach to flexible working and attract top talent in a competitive job market.


Don't let the challenges of the new flexible working legislation hold your

organisation back. Invest in our Flexible Working Toolkit today and empower

your managers to build a thriving, flexible, and future-ready workforce.


Throughout April we’re offering the Toolkit for half price, it’s usually £175, but

you can get it for just £87.50, click this link to get your toolkit today:



The HR Hero Members do not need to buy this, as it’s part

of your membership.

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