Seven in ten workers unaware of new flexible working law

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Date: 2 April 2024

A young man makes the most of new flexible working regulations to work from home

Research by Acas has found that most employees don't know about new laws that will make it easier to request flexible working.

From 6 April 2024, new laws will give UK employees the right to ask their employers if they can work flexibly from the first day of their employment (previously only allowed after 26 weeks of continuous employment). Additionally, employees can make two flexible working requests every 12 months (up from once a year).

However, research conducted by YouGov for Acas has found that 70% of employees and 43% of employers are unaware of the law change.

Flexible working is a broad term that covers when, where and how someone works. It includes part-time working, home working, hybrid working, flexitime, job sharing, compressed hours, annualised hours, term-time working and team-based rostering.

Acas has produced a revised code of practice on requests for flexible working to support employers and employees through this change and other reforms, which will be introduced on 6 April 2024 when the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 comes into force.

"Our new findings reveal that most employees and more than two in five employers are unaware of the new upcoming law changes to flexible working. Flexible working can bring many benefits in workplaces and the starting position should be to consider what may be possible. Acas has prepared a new statutory Code of Practice that will come into effect on 6 April, which addresses the changes and sets out good practice on flexible working requests." Susan Clews, chief executive, Acas.

The Acas code of practice on requests for flexible working includes information on:

  • Who should be allowed to accompany an employee at meetings to discuss a flexible working 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.

Demand for flexible working is high

A new study by Currys has found that four in ten Brits (43%) say that they won't even apply for a job role that's not flexible. Nearly half (49%) of desk workers say their desire for a flexible role has increased since the pandemic. However, according to Timewise Flexible Jobs Index, only 31% of job advertisements included a mention of part-time or flexible working options in 2023.

The Currys study has identified the employment sectors where remote working is most common:

  • IT, where 29% of jobs are remote;
  • Financial services (21%);
  • Sales (16%);
  • Marketing and media (10%);
  • Engineering (9%);
  • Legal (6%);
  • Administration (4).

Written by Rachel Miller.

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