What are the changes to flexible working rules?

By Mark Gale, Policy and Campaigns Manager, Young Women's Trust • 6 March 2023

The government is bringing in changes to flexible working which will mean that you could work flexibly from day 1 in a job. The new work rules also cover job-sharing, flexitime, and working compressed, annualised, or staggered hours. There will be more leave for carers too although how much or how it’s taken is still being decided.

Labour MP, Yasmin Qureshi, and Lib-Dem MP, Wendy Chamberlain, worked together to bring about the new rules and the government supported the changes after a detailed consultation with industry. The flexible working rules are set out in the new Flexible Working Bill

What the new flexible working rules mean for you

Currently, the flexible working rules make it hard to work flexibly if you are starting a new job or if your situation changes. This is why people have asked the government for more choice over where, how and when they work so they can balance their work and home life.

The current flexible working rules

Right now, if you choose to make a flexible working request at work, you:

  • need to be in your job for at least 6 months before you can make a flexible working request
  • can only make a flexible working request once a year
  • must explain how you working flexibly will affect your employer
  • might not be given the opportunity to discuss your request before it’s turned down
  • could wait up to 3 months for your employer to give you a decision about your request.

What’s changing?

Changes to the flexible working rules will mean you:

  • can make a flexible working request from the first day in your job
  • will be able to make 2 flexible working requests per year
  • won’t have to explain how you working flexibly will affect your employer
  • will have the chance to discuss your request with your employer before a decision is reached, meaning it will be easier to find agreement that works for you
  • will get a decision sooner, no longer than 2 months.

It’s important to remember that, even though you ask for flexible working, your boss doesn’t have to agree.

More leave for carers

The Carer’s Leave Bill will make it easier for you, if you are a carer, to take leave to look after your loved ones. The new support for carers rules will help you by:

  • allowing you at least 1 week of unpaid leave a year
  • giving you this option from day 1 in your job.

The government will also need to make further changes to set out exactly how you will be able to take that leave. This could be how much notice period (if any) you’ll need to give and whether you’ll be able to take the leave in blocks or a day or 2 at a time. It will also decide exactly how long the leave entitlement will be. We’ll keep you up to date when we hear more.

Calling for more rights at work

These changes to your rights at work are important and they should make it easier for you to get in to work and stay in work.

Lots of you have told us that you need flexibility at work. In our annual survey report last year, Just Getting By, 82% of young women said that the ability to work flexibly is important to them.

However, at Young Women’s Trust, we still want to see stronger rights at work that go beyond these changes. These include better pay for younger workers, more efforts to tackle discrimination, and more predictable hours and job security.

If you’d like to find out more about the work we are doing to bring about these changes, and how you can get involved, check out Campaign With Us.

You can find useful workplace information and advice at Additional Support.
Acas has information on how to make a flexible working request at work.
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