In the ever-evolving landscape of employment practices, the concept of flexible working has emerged as a pivotal consideration for both employers and employees alike. It is anticipated that as of 1 April 2024, a significant change is on the horizon: flexible working requests will be available from day one of employment. This adjustment marks a significant shift in how we approach work-life balance and underscores the importance of understanding the implications for all parties involved.

What is Flexible Working?

Flexible working encompasses various arrangements that allow employees to request that their employer alter their working patterns to better suit their personal needs. This can include options such as part-time hours, remote work, compressed hours, job sharing, or flexi-time. The aim is to provide employees with greater autonomy over their schedules, ultimately fostering a more harmonious work-life balance.

The Legal Framework

It is anticipated that from 1 April, the right to request flexible working will be available to all employees from day one of their employment. Previously, employees were required to have at least 26 weeks of continuous service before being eligible to make such a request. This change represents a significant departure from the previous norm and underscores the increasing emphasis on flexibility in the modern workplace.

Under the law, employers are obligated to consider all requests for flexible working in a reasonable manner. While they are not required to grant every request, they must provide a valid business reason for any refusal. Failure to handle these requests in a fair and lawful manner can leave employers vulnerable to legal action.

Considerations for Employers

For employers, navigating the new landscape of flexible working requires careful consideration and proactive measures. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Policy Review: Ensure that your company’s policies and procedures regarding flexible working are up to date and compliant with the latest regulations. Communicate these policies clearly to all employees to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings.

Training and Awareness: Train managers and HR personnel on how to handle flexible working requests effectively and in accordance with the law. Encourage open communication and transparency throughout the process.

Business Needs: When assessing requests for flexible working, consider the impact on your business operations. While accommodating employee needs is important, it’s essential to balance this with the needs of the organisation.

Consistency: Treat all flexible working requests consistently and fairly. Avoid discrimination or bias based on factors such as gender, age, or disability.

Trial Periods: In some cases, it may be beneficial to implement a trial period for new flexible working arrangements. This allows both parties to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of the arrangement before making it permanent.

Considerations for Employees

Employees also play a crucial role in the flexible working equation. Here are some considerations for employees seeking flexible working arrangements:

Clear Communication: Clearly communicate your reasons for requesting flexible working and how you believe it will benefit both you and the company. Provide as much detail as possible to support your request.

Flexibility: Be open to compromise and alternative solutions. While you may have a specific arrangement in mind, be willing to explore different options that meet both your needs and the needs of the business.

Understanding Business Needs: Recognise that your employer may have legitimate business reasons for refusing your request. Be prepared to discuss potential alternatives and find a solution that works for everyone.

Professionalism: Approach the request process professionally and respectfully. Demonstrate your commitment to your job and your willingness to find mutually beneficial solutions.

As the 1 April deadline approaches, both employers and employees must familiarise themselves with the new rules surrounding flexible working requests. By understanding their rights and responsibilities under the law, both parties can work together to create a more flexible and accommodating work environment. Embracing the principles of flexibility can lead to increased employee satisfaction, productivity, and ultimately, business success.

If you need advice and assistance in order to make a flexible working request, or to respond to a request, then please contact Deborah Francis for assistance by email at or by telephone on 01903 237118.