In light of the significant shift in flexible working practices and upcoming reforms to legislation to make flexible working a day-one right, Acas consulted on its Code of Practice to provide employers and employees with a clear explanation of the law, alongside good practice advice on handling requests in a reasonable manner. The CIPD welcomes an updated Code of Practice that reflects shifting attitudes towards flexible working and good practice principles. To help with our response, we conducted a focus group of CIPD members.

“The world of work has changed considerably, with shifting employee and employer attitudes towards flexible working. It makes sense to reflect these developments in the Code.”

Claire McCartney, Senior Policy Advisor, CIPD

Overall, the updated Code of Practice reflects the possibilities and opportunities of flexible working by outlining the benefits to both employers and employees across a range of sectors, occupations and organisation sizes. 

A significant change to the Code relates to the new legal requirement on an employer to consult with an employee before they may refuse a flexible working request. Even when an employer plans to accept a flexible working request, we think it’s helpful to offer an employee a meeting to discuss any questions an employee or the employer might have and to ensure the new flexible working arrangement gets off to the best possible start. When a request is rejected, the Code should recommend, where it’s reasonable and possible to do so, that employers provide any additional information to help explain why. 

The Code should also include a section about the right to request a predictable work pattern, if that right is introduced, as the right to request flexible working and the right to request a predictable work pattern are interrelated in respect of how many requests an employee may make in any 12-month period.

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