Select Your Cookie Preferences

We use cookies and similar tools that are necessary to enable you to use our website, to enhance your experience, and provide our services, as detailed in our Cookie Notice. We also use these cookies to understand how customers use our services (for example, by measuring site visits) so we can make improvements.

If you agree, we'll also use cookies to complement your website experience, as described in our Cookie Notice. This may include using third party cookies for the purpose of displaying and measuring interest-based ads. Click "Customise Cookies" to decline these cookies, make more detailed choices, or learn more.

New flexible working rules: right to request from day one

Young business woman sitting at a desk with laptop and a coffee

Businesses risk losing out on top talent by not supporting workplace flexibility, according to new research.

A survey conducted by Ricoh Europe ahead of a change in the law on requesting flexible working showed that female workers in particular are looking for flexible arrangements in their working life.

While all employees see the benefits of flexibility and hybrid working arrangements, approximately 10% more women, over half (51%), agree that hybrid working improves their work-life balance, compared with only 39% of men. And 40% of women actively seek employers offering hybrid models, a higher percentage than men.

The data highlights an opportunity for businesses to help facilitate better hybrid working practices to both attract and retain top female talent, Ricoh Europe said.

Right to request flexible working from day one

From 6 April 2024, employees will have the right to request flexible working from their first day in a new job.

This change in the law removes the requirement for an employee to have 26 weeks' continuous service with an employer before they can make a formal flexible working request.

Employees will also be able to make two applications for flexible working every 12 months, a change from one application per year.

Employers must consider flexible working requests in a 'reasonable manner' and they should make a decision within two months of getting the request -- down from three months under the previous rules.

Ahead of the new rules coming into force, Acas has compiled a Code of Practice providing guidance to employers and employees on the statutory right to request flexible working.

Types of flexible working

Flexible working covers a lot more than just working remotely for some or all of the time. It can also take the form of:

  • Job sharing: Two people doing one full-time job and splitting the hours.
  • Reduced hours: Working less than full-time hours over the week.
  • Compressed hours: Working full-time hours but over fewer days.
  • Flexitime: The employee chooses when to start and end work (within agreed limits) but works certain 'core hours', for example 10am to 4pm every day.
  • Annualised hours: The employee has to work a certain number of hours over the year but they have more flexibility about when they work.
  • Staggered hours: The employee has different start, finish and break times from other workers.
  • Term-time working: A contract that specifies the employee is only required to work during periods that correspond with school term time (39 weeks per year).
  • Phased retirement: Older workers can reduce their hours and work part-time ahead of their preferred retirement age.

'Satisfaction, engagement and productivity'

With continued challenges around hiring, and a growing skills gap, employers can't afford to ignore the demand for flexible work.

"Interestingly, our research found that women (40%) and men (34%) are aligned in their belief that they can perform their role remotely as well as they can in an office setting," said Rebekah Wallis, director of People & ESG at Ricoh UK.

"Hybrid policies should reflect this and should be about flexibility for everyone. By trusting your people to meet their responsibilities regardless of the work setting, you're prioritising their employee experience which will, ultimately, benefit the business by driving employee satisfaction, engagement and productivity."

Posted by Fidelius on March 11th 2024

Loading... Updating page...