Flexing for Success: How Flexible Working Laws Benefit Employers and Employees

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, came into effect in the UK on April 6, granting employees in England, Scotland, and Wales the right to request flexible working from day one of their employment. Previously, employees were often required to work continuously for 26 weeks before making such a request.


With the new law, employees can make two flexible working requests every 12 months, rather than the single request that was formerly allowed, and employers must respond to the request within two months, as opposed to the former three-month period for consideration. According to Personnel Today, an employer may refuse a flexible working request for the following business reasons, provided they supply sufficient evidence to support the refusal to the employee:


  • Burden of additional costs
  • Detrimental effect on the business’ ability to meet customer demand
  • Detrimental impact on quality and performance
  • Unable to reorganise work among existing staff
  • Unable to recruit more staff
  • Insufficient work during the periods the employee wishes to work
  • Planned structural changes.


The new legislation reflects an increased demand for flexibility in the workplace, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and underscores the importance employees place on work-life balance. In particular, the law could benefit employees and jobseekers with health conditions and caring responsibilities, simultaneously helping organisations narrow the gender pay and pensions gap.


The Fawcett Society, a gender equality and women’s rights charity in the UK, found in their 2023 equal pay briefing that 77% of women agreed they would be more likely to apply for a job that advertises flexible working options, and 40% of women who are not currently working said “access to flexible work would mean they could take on more paid work…”


Within the art world where irregular hours, seasonal and event-based work, and travel are common, offering flexible working arrangements can be a game-changer. It can attract a more diverse pool of candidates, bringing new perspectives and skills to the table.


Moreover, in an industry where networking and attending events (often internationally) is crucial, flexible working can enable employees to balance their professional and personal commitments more effectively. This can lead to higher job satisfaction, increased productivity, and ultimately, better retention rates. It also demonstrates a commitment to supporting employees’ well-being, which is increasingly important to employer branding in today’s competitive job market.


Employers who prioritize understanding and implementing flexible working policies are also poised to benefit from a more engaged and diverse workforce.


“Flexible working and diversity and inclusion are interwoven, and businesses that make the most of the opportunity could really open some doors to new and exciting talent.”

Claire Campbell, Timewise Chief Executive, as quoted in The Guardian.


This approach not only makes a business attractive to top talent but may also position it for success in a rapidly evolving and competitive environment.


Additional Resources:

Personnel Today – Flexible working changes 2024: How the new law works

Photo Credit: Vojtec Okenka