The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act received royal assent on 20 July and is likely to come into force in approximately a year so that employers are prepared for the changes.
This is the newest in a wave of wins for employees with the record-breaking National Minimum Wage uplift which came into effect in April and the recent boosts to employment protections for parents and unpaid carers.
What does the Act mean for employees?
This Act will give workers more flexibility over where and when they work as employers will have to consider any requests made by their employee within two months of a request, instead of three.
Employees will also have the right to ask for flexible working on day one of their new job and employers will have to consider the request and offer a reason before they can reject this.
Flexible working covers a broad number of work-related allowances such as part time work, adjusted start and finish times and flexi-time.
Flexible working is increasingly popular for working parents who can start later and finish earlier around school hours.
In addition to the above protections, employees will also have the right to make two statutory requests within 12 months as opposed to the current rule of one request a year.
Employees will also no longer have to explain what effect the change they are requesting will have on their employer and how that can be dealt with.
How will businesses be impacted?
Research showed that businesses which have welcomed flexible working are attracting more talent and reducing staff turnover which ultimately has boosted productivity in the workplace.
Last year, six per cent of employees changed jobs due to a lack of flexibility in their job and 12 per cent actually left their profession completely because of the lack of flexibility in the sector itself, CIPD research found.
Working Families Chief Executive, Jane van Zyl, said: “There are millions of parents and carers in the UK who rely on flexible working to enter and stay in employment. It is no longer a perk; for many, it is a necessity. But flexible working isn’t just good for people–it’s also good for business, and good for the economy.”