Acas seeks views on new updates to its flexible working Code

Workplace expert, Acas, has today launched a consultation on updates to its statutory Code of Practice on handling requests for flexible working.

The current Code was published in 2014 and the new draft reflects significant shifts in ways of working since then as well anticipated changes to the law.

Susan Clews, Acas Chief Executive, said:

"Rapid advances in technology alongside changes to the way many people now work since the covid-19 pandemic have contributed to a substantial shift in flexible working globally.

"It has allowed more people to better balance their working lives and employers have also benefitted from being an attractive place to work for skilled staff that value flexibility.

"Our new draft Code strengthens good practice on flexible working and addresses important upcoming changes to the law. We are keen to get views to ensure that it is clear and relevant for the modern workplace."

All employees who have worked for their employer for 26 weeks or more currently have the right to ask if they can work flexibly. A planned new change in the law will make this a right that applies from the first day of employment.

This change is part of a series of anticipated law reforms on flexible working that are currently being considered by Parliament and are expected to come into force next year.

The revisions in the draft Code encourage employers to take a positive approach to flexible working so that requests are not rejected by default without due consideration and an open dialogue about what may be workable. It includes information on:

  • who should be allowed to accompany an employee at meetings to discuss a request
  • the need for transparency about reasons for rejecting a request
  • making it clear that employers should proactively offer an appeal where a request has been rejected

The consultation closes on 6 September 2023.

Read and respond to the flexible working Code consultation

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Background notes

1. The Acas consultation on the draft Code of Practice on handling requests for flexible working will run for 8 weeks from 12 July 2023 and the closing date for responses is 11.59pm on 6 September 2023. The consultation document and questions are available on the Acas website along with a response form.

2. The current Code of Practice on handling requests for flexible working was published in 2014.

3. The new law reforms on flexible working are set out in the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill that is currently being considered by Parliament. If passed, the laws are expected to come into effect in 2024. The day 1 right to request will come into effect at the same time.

4. Acas has upcoming training courses for employers about flexible working.