Making flexible working the default – government response to consultation

December 12, 2022

The government has published its response to a consultation that ran between July and September this year on proposals to reform flexible working regulations. This consultation confirms the government’s intention to introduce changes to the right to request flexible working legislation.

This right currently supports all employees with 26 weeks continuous service to make applications to change their work location, working hours and/or working pattern.

The response states that the government will take forward the following measures:

•  Make the right to request flexible working a day one right.

•  Introduce a new requirement for employees to consult with the employee when they intend to reject their flexible working request.

•  Allow 2 statutory requests in any 12-month period (rather than the current one).

•  Require a decision period of 2 months in respect of a statutory flexible working request (rather than the current three).

•  Remove the existing requirement that the employee must explain what effect, if any, the change applied for would have on the employer and how that effect might be dealt with.

The response also commits to:

•  Developing guidance to raise awareness and understanding of how to make and administer temporary requests for flexible working.

•  Launching a call for evidence to better understand how informal flexible working operates in practice.

The document includes a summary of the responses received from individuals and stakeholders. The proposed changes to the right to request flexible working received broad support across the range of respondents, including individuals, businesses, charities, and trade unions.

The government says that it recognises that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to work arrangements and has been clear that the legislation should remain a ‘right to request’, not a ‘right to have’. The priority is to set the right conditions to allow employees and employers to explore the available options in their particular context.


There was a total of 1,611 responses received to this consultation. The majority of respondents were individuals – 1,342 in total (83%). In terms of responses from business, government received:

•  56 from large businesses.

•  25 from medium businesses.

•  14 from small businesses.

•  19 from micro businesses.

•  30 from business representative organisations.

The other main sub-groups were:

•  Charities or campaign groups.

•  Academics, think tanks or advisory groups.

•  Consultancies or professional bodies.


This is valid as of 12th November 2022.

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