Government, ACAS and EHRC new guidance on flexible working, support for disabled workers, and new Carer’s leave legislation

The Government, ACAS and EHRC have issued new guidance on flexible working, support for disabled workers in the workplace, and the new Carer’s leave legislation.

Carer’s Leave

The Government and ACAS have issued guidance on the new statutory right to carer’s leave which came into effect on 6th April 2024. This guidance should be used by employers as it aims to explain the statutory right of employees and it provides some practical advice/pointers for employers. You can view the guidance by clicking on the links below.

Government Guidance Note- Unpaid carer’s leave – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

ACAS Guidance Note- Carer’s leave – Acas

The guidance provided by ACAS will be easy and useful to implement across the business. In particular, it sets out the key information on the statutory entitlement to take Carer’s Leave, such as who the entitlement applies to, how it can be used by employees to include minimum notice periods and what employers rights are with regards to amending leave dates.

Employers should consider this guidance carefully as the new entitlements provide staff with an ability to request leave with short notice. This can become problematic and effect the businesses productivity should the employee hold office in a role unable to be covered by other staff.

Employers therefore need to use this guidance to not only stay compliant to the statutory changes but also be aware of their rights and entitlements to negotiate different carer’s leave dates. More detail and information can be found using the ACAS link above.

Changes for the support of disabled workers:

The Department for Work and Pensions has put together some new guidance to reflect the changes in support for disabled workers. It helps employers to educate managerial staff to better support disabled people in the workplace. This guide which can be accessed on the below link and provides tips on many different circumstances that could arise from their employment. This includes, recruiting, managing, and fostering progression but the focus of employers should be on the point of making reasonable adjustments.

Employing disabled people: Disability Confident and CIPD manager’s guide – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

As with all staff, it is important that employers ensure that they are not acting in a way that is discriminatory and allow employees to carry out their duties without any hinderance. The guidance produced by the Disability Confident and CIPD focuses on the role of the line manager in workplace adjustments, language and behaviour and sickness absence. In the most part it is important you, as employers, consider this new guidance to help support managerial staff with training so employees with disabilities and health conditions can be effectively managed and to ensure that as a company you are inclusive.

Flexible Working Requests

ACAS has released new guidance and advice on the new statutory right of an employee to make a flexible working request.

Essentially the changes imposed, which came into effect from 6 April 2024, mean that the employer must now respond to any request within 2 months (this is a shorter timeframe than before) and also that an employee is able to make two requests in any 12 month period (previously this was only one request in a 12 month period). This entitlement of the employee is now also a ‘day one right’, so employees will not be required as per previous legislation to have a certain period of service (26 weeks) to be eligible to make a request.

It is important that Employers use the new guidance issued by ACAS on the Code of Practice to review and amend their working policies to reflect the main changes as above. As an employer it may also be worth dedicating some resource to training and other forms of awareness for employees with managerial style roles to ensure compliance with these new changes. Please do take a look at the link below for further details. What flexible working is – Statutory flexible working requests – Acas

What impact does this have on employers?

It is important that the new changes are implemented correctly into the business for regulatory and compliance purposes. The above guidance can be used to assist with implementing these changes into the policies and staff handbooks on this area. A policy to address this change can help with setting expectations, making clear the process employees need to follow and handling flexible working requests consistently in line with the new statutory change. As employers, the changes could be introduced by sharing the policy with the organisation to ensure staff understand their rights, however training should also be arranged for managerial staff to ensure compliance when handling flexible working requests.
Employers who fail to implement these new statutory changes across the board need to understand that employees will not know their statutory rights, and should any issues arise managers will not be trained to deal and handle these issues. This would place the company in unnecessary and unwanted scrutiny. Instead, employers should ensure that a policy on flexible working is shared to help attract and keep staff, increase productivity by maintaining motivation and morale of employees and to also improve diversity and inclusivity. So, the benefit of implementing the new changes doesn’t stop at compliance and can extend to wider improvements with staff retention and recruitment.

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