A NEW survey from Acas has found that nearly two-thirds of employees (63 per cent) in the South West are not aware that they will have a right to request flexible working from their employer from day one of their job next year.

All employees who have worked for their employer for 26 weeks or more currently have the right to ask if they can work flexibly.

A new change in the law will make this a right that applies from the first day of employment.

Acas will produce a new statutory Code of Practice on handling requests for flexible working to support employers and employees through this change and other reforms, which will be introduced next year.

Acas Chief Executive Susan Clews said: “There has been a substantial shift in flexible working globally, which has allowed more people to better balance their working lives and employers have also benefitted from being an attractive place to work.

“It is important for bosses and staff in the South West to be prepared for new changes to the law around the right to request flexible working, which will be coming into force next year.

“Acas has just consulted on a new draft Code of Practice, which strengthens good practice on flexible working and addresses important upcoming changes to the law. The final new Code will be published next year.”

The day one right to request flexible working will come into force on April 6, 2024.

Additional law reforms on flexible working that are outlined in the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 are expected to come in at the same time.

Acas’s draft statutory Code of Practice on handling requests for flexible working includes information on:

• Who should be allowed to accompany an employee at meetings to discuss a flexible working request

• The need for transparency about reasons for rejecting a request

• Making it clear that employers should proactively offer an appeal where a request has been rejected.

The consultation on this new draft Code has now closed and a final version of the Code will be published next year.

The draft Code can be seen at: www.acas.org.uk/flexible-working-code-consultation .