Changes to ACAS Code of Practice on requests for flexible working

An updated version of the ACAS Code of Practice will replace the current Code in relation to flexible working requests when new legislation comes into force next month.

With effect from 6th April 2024:

  1. Every employee has a statutory right to request flexible working which applies from the first day of employment.
  2. A flexible working request must be in writing and state that it is a statutory request for flexible working. It must contain the date of the request, the requested changes to their hours, times or place of work and the date the employee would like the change to come into effect. The employee must also confirm if and when they made a previous required for flexible working.
  3. Employers should make it clear to their employees that the above information must be included in any statutory request for flexible working.
  4. An employee may take two statutory requests for flexible working within any 12-month period. However, an employee may only have one live request at any one time.
  5. Employers must handle every request in a reasonable manner. Employers should carefully assess the effect of the requested change for both the employer and employee. For example, the potential benefits or impacts of accepting or rejecting the request.
  6. Employers must agree to a flexible working request unless there is a genuine business reason not to. The business reasons must be one of (or a combination of) the eight potential reasons set out in section 80(G)of the Employment Rights Act 1996.
  7. If any employee seeks a reasonable adjustment for their disability through a request for flexible working, the employer must consider this in line with its legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010.
  8. Employers must not reject a request without first consulting the employee. The employer should invite the employee to a consultation meeting to discuss the request, and this meeting should be held without unreasonable delay.
  9. If the original request cannot be accepted in full, the employer and employer should discuss if it may be possible to accept part of the request.
  10. A written record of the meeting should be kept which provides an accurate reflection of the discussion that has taken place.
  11. There is no statutory right to accompaniment at meetings held to discuss a request for flexible working.
  12. Once the employer has made a decision about the request, they must inform the employee of their decision. They should confirm the decision in writing without unreasonable delay.
  13. There is an overall limit of two months for resolving requests and appeals.
  14. There is no statutory right to appeal against a decision about a request for flexible working. However, it is best practice to afford a right of appeal. If a request is turned down without a right to appeal, the employee could raise a grievance about this anyway.
  15. If an employee wishes to appeal the decision about their request, they should let their employer know the reasons for their appeal in writing. The appeal meeting should be arranged without unreasonable delay. Once a decision has been made, this should be confirmed to the employee in writing.
  16. If the employer arranges a meeting to discuss the request, or any appeal, and the employee fails to attend the meeting or any rearranged meetings without a good reason, the employer may consider the request withdrawn.

Sasha Dixon is a trainee solicitor in our employment law team.