Earlier this month, some important pieces of new legislation came into force that have a direct effect on employers and employees so for this blog post, we’re looking at them in a bit more detail.

Employment Rights (Flexible Working) Act 2023

Before this new act came into force, employees could only request to make a change to where and when they work after they had been in their job for six months, and they could only make one request within any 12 month period.

The new act, which came into force from 6th April this year, allows employees to request flexible working from the very first day of their employment and to make up to two requests in 12 months. The definition of flexible working can cover a number of different scenarios that include asking to move to part time or reduced hours or only working during term time to accommodate child care needs. It also includes flexitime, which is when an employee can vary their working hours each day, often within the parameters of daily core hours and so that the contracted hours for each week or month are met. So for example, an employee can work 9am to 3pm on one day but those missing two hours will need to be made up at another time.

An employee can also request to work compressed hours, where all the contracted hours are worked over a shorter time. For example, 40 hours can be worked over four 10 hour days rather than five 8 hour days. This can be useful for an employee but consideration should always be given to staff welfare when working long days.

Finally, flexible working might also include a request to vary the location where the employee is based. Most typically this will be a request to work entirely or partly at home, but it might also be a request to work out of a different office location.

Previously, employers had 3 months to make a decision on a flexible working request but that has now been reduced to 2 months. Employers could also reject a request without giving a reason but the new legislation means that’s no longer the case; employers have to back up a refusal with a full explanation for their decision.

Obviously the impact of this new legislation will be different for each employer and may be difficult to manage in small businesses with only a few employees. But all employers are treated the same under the new law so solutions will need to be found when and if an employee requests flexible working.

Carer’s Leave Act 2023

This is the second major piece of new legislation to come into force on 6th April and has been designed to support employees with caring responsibilities.

The Act gives employees the right, from their first day of employment, to request leave so they can care for someone they look after. This would normally be a close family member – spouse or civil partner, child, parent or other dependent. They might need care because of age, disability or illness or injury that is likely to be needed for at least three months.

The leave that can be granted under the Act is unpaid and the maximum amount of leave that can be taken is one week per year. This can be combined with other leave such as annual leave or even compassionate leave, but this will be at the discretion of the employer and may not be available to everyone. And many employees may find any amount of unpaid leave difficult to manage.

Employers cannot deny a request for Carer’s Leave but if it would disrupt the business too much, they can postpone it to another time.

Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023

This is another law that came into force on 6th April and it extends the protection from redundancy already afforded to those on maternity leave to those who are pregnant or who have recently returned from shared parental leave, maternity leave or adoption leave. It can give up to 18 months protection from redundancy, calculated from the child’s date of birth.

If you need any more information on these new laws, speak to your HR professional or just get in touch.