A recent survey conducted by Acas has uncovered a significant lack of awareness among employees regarding their forthcoming right to request flexible working from their employers on the first day of their job.

The study revealed that a substantial seven out of ten employees (70%) are unaware of this impending change in employment legislation set to take effect next year. Currently, employees with a tenure of 26 weeks or more have the entitlement to request flexible work arrangements. However, a significant alteration in the law will extend this right to all employees from the commencement of their employment.

Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, is now gearing up to introduce a new statutory Code of Practice to guide employers and employees through these upcoming reforms. This Code aims to provide comprehensive support and guidance concerning the handling of requests for flexible working. Susan Clews, Chief Executive of Acas, stressed the importance of readiness for these legislative amendments, as well as the substantial global shift towards flexible work arrangements and the mutual advantages it brings to both employees and employers.

Key Aspects of the Draft Statutory Code

Clews highlighted Acas’s efforts in drafting a new Code of Practice, designed to reinforce good practices related to flexible working and address crucial upcoming changes in the law. The final version of this Code is set for publication next year.

The draft Code of Practice issued by Acas outlines crucial aspects to ensure adherence to fair and effective procedures regarding flexible work requests. It includes provisions regarding the accompaniment of employees during discussions about flexible working, the need for transparency in justifying rejections of such requests, and the recommendation for employers to offer an appeals process for rejected requests.

The consultation period for the new draft Code has concluded, and the final version is slated for release next year. The draft can be accessed for review at www.acas.org.uk/flexible-working-code-consultation. This new legislation, including the day one right to request flexible working, is anticipated to be enforced from April 6, 2024, alongside additional reforms outlined in the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023.