Consultation outcome

Making flexible working the default

This was published under the 2019 to 2022 Johnson Conservative government

Applies to England, Scotland and Wales

This consultation has concluded

Read the full outcome

Detail of outcome

The government response to 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

It includes a summary of the responses received from individuals and stakeholders.

Detail of feedback received

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 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.

We received 1,611 responses to this consultation. The majority of respondents were individuals: 1,342 in total (83%). In terms of responses from business we 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

Original consultation


This consultation seeks views from individuals and businesses on proposals to reform flexible working regulations.

This consultation ran from

Consultation description

This consultation contains proposals to reform flexible working regulations (The Flexible Working Regulations 2014).

It also covers the wider work being undertaken by the government to encourage and support flexible working, and responds to relevant proposals from the July 2019 Good Work Plan: Proposals to support families consultation.

Flexible working can be particularly valuable for those who need to balance their personal lives with their working lives, including those with caring responsibilities. It can also bring benefits to employers – attracting more applicants and increasing productivity and motivation levels among staff.

In 2003, legislation came into force which provided parents and certain other carers with a right to request a flexible working arrangement, which covered work location, working hours and working pattern. In 2014, the right to request a flexible working arrangement was extended to all employees with 26 weeks continuous service.

This consultation seeks to go further, and its proposals would affect both employers who receive flexible working requests and individuals who are looking to change their contracted working arrangements.

The territorial extent of these proposals extends to England, Wales, and Scotland. Employment law is devolved to Northern Ireland.

Read the BEIS consultation privacy notice.

Please don’t send responses by post to the department at the moment as we may not be able to access them.


Making flexible working the default

Updates to this page

Published 23 September 2021
Last updated 5 December 2022 + show all updates
  1. Government response published.

  2. Added Welsh version of consultation document.

  3. First published.

Sign up for emails or print this page