employment contract

When will the Employment Relations Bill come into effect?

The Employment Relations Bill, also known as the Flexible Working Bill July 2023, passed its final reading in parliament and received royal assent earlier this year. The legislation serves to grant employees greater power over their working schedule through greater ability to request flexible working. As a result, the bill promises to make significant changes to the way employees and their employers operate.

Below you’ll find the timeline for when the Employment Relations Bill will come into effect, along with what employers and employees should be aware of.

What the bill will mean for employers


The goal of the bill is to give employees more control over their working, namely, through improved powers to request flexible working. This has the potential to include working in a location outside business premises and working outside the business’s regular working hours or patterns. The changes that will be brought about by the bill are:

  • A consultation must be scheduled before a flexible working request can be denied.
  • Employers have two months (down from three) to make a decision on a flexible working request.
  • Employees have the ability to make up to two separate flexible working requests (up from one) within the same 12 month period.
  • Employees are no longer required to explain the potential effects their request would have on the organisation.

For employers, the main legal advice is to be prepared for greater employee interaction on matters of flexible working. Once the bill comes into effect, more employees will expect employers to make accommodations for flexible working requests. As such, employers should consider scaling their HR operations accordingly.

The main difficulty that is likely to arise for employers due to the new rules is keeping track of all the requests and responding to each one before the time limit. This is because each request will have a different deadline response date based on when it was submitted. Employment Law Services Ltd offers bespoke legal services to support employers in creating new HR policies and procedures.

What the bill will mean for employees

As a bill focused on providing employees with greater freedom in work, it’s no surprise that it will bring additional benefits. Possibly the most significant development for employees is the introduction of day-one requests. The current rules state that an employee must have to have worked for the same employer for a minimum of 26 weeks before submitting a flexible working request. Under the new rules, requests can be made from the first day of the employment (start of employment period).

Alongside this, the measures mentioned above make it easier for employees to submit flexible working requests in the first place. The end result is that workers have greater control over when and where they work. The hope is that this will make improvements to working practices that will benefit both employees and employers. Positions will be more flexible in their working requirements and therefore be more likely to attract talent and retain existing staff.

employees working

Timeline of the bill

Unfortunately, there isn’t a set time frame for when a bill will take effect after it has received royal assent. Given that the Employment Relations Bill finished its journey through parliament on July 14th, many legal professionals expect it won’t be enacted until early 2024 at the earliest. As such, employers still have some time to make preparations and make updates to guidelines and policies.

On previous occasions, the government has introduced new laws on common commencement dates (CCDs). One is in April and the other in October. Taking into account the start of the business year as well, it seems reasonable to assume that the bill could come into effect sometime in April 2024. However, we won’t get confirmation on this until closer to the time.


Get professional employment law advice

The team at Employment Law Services (ELS) LTD is constantly preparing for the introduction of new employment laws so you don’t have to. Whether you have to make fundamental changes to your business infrastructure or need support in your position as an employee, we are here to help. As an award-winning legal services firm that have operated for over 15 years, we have the experience to secure the best outcomes for our clients. Contact us today to speak to one our friendly experts. Our services cover the length and breadth of the UK, so if you’re looking for employment law solicitors near me don’t hesitate to get in touch.