The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill has officially received Royal Assent and will now be officially enshrined in the statute books. This is a big win for employees across the country who have been advocating for more flexible working arrangements. The Bill is an important step towards creating a more modern, adaptable workforce that can better balance work and personal commitments.
With this new legislation in place, employers will be required to seriously consider requests for flexible working arrangements from their employees. This means that those who have been struggling to juggle work with caring responsibilities or other commitments will now have more options available to them.
The Bill was sponsored by Yasmin Qureshi MP and Baroness Taylor of Bolton, both members of the Labour Party, as a Private Members Bill.
The Bill makes amendments to the Employment Rights Act 1996:
- Introduces a requirement for employers to consult with the employee before rejecting their flexible working request.
- Allows an employee to make two statutory requests in any 12-month period (rather than the current one request).
- Reduces the decision period within which an employer is required to administer the statutory request from three months to two months.
- Removes the requirement that the employee must explain in the statutory request what effect the change would have on the employer and how that might be dealt with.
During the Third Reading in the House of Lords, Minister for Regulatory Reform The Earl of Minto stated: “The changes represent a timely, sensible and proportionate update to the right to request flexible working and reflect what many employers already do.”
In conclusion, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill marks a significant milestone in the UK’s efforts to create a more modern and adaptable workforce. With this new legislation in place, employees now have more options available to them when it comes to balancing work and personal commitments. The amendments to the Employment Rights Act 1996 represent a sensible and proportionate update to the right to request flexible working, which many employers already support. Overall, this is a positive step towards creating a better work-life balance for employees across the country.