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What you need to know about new flexible working changes

Young woman working from home
The new rules should help to create more job opportunities, and also allow for a better work-life balance

Employees now have the right to request permanent changes to their contract immediately upon starting their job.

New laws, which came into force on 6 April, allow workers to seek adjustments in when, how long and where they work right from day one.

The move is expected to create more job opportunities – especially for caregivers needing balance between work and caring – while also helping to reduce the gender pay gap and make it easier for disabled people to find jobs. The overall aim is make people happier at work and create a more diverse workforce.

Flexible working encompasses various aspects like hours, patterns (part-time, flexi-time, etc) and locations (e.g home or satellite offices).

Additionally, employees will now have the opportunity to submit two requests per year, instead of just one as it stands currently. And they will no longer be obliged to explain the potential impact of flexible working on the organisation or how to address any related challenges. As an employer, you'll be required to make a decision on these requests within two months of receiving them, compared to the current three-month timeframe. If you feel unable to accept the request, you'll need to consult with your employee. You can only reject a request for one of eight business reasons:

  • extra costs that will damage the business

  • the work can't be reorganised among other staff

  • people can't be recruited to do the work

  • flexible working will affect quality and performance

  • the business won't be able to meet customer demand

  • there’s a lack of work to do during the proposed working times

  • the business is planning changes to the workforce

You can find out more about how the changes will affect you and your business and get guidance and support, by visiting

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