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Flex Appeal

Putting employees first – from day one.

Life expectancy in the last 40 years has increased, with more people than ever before living to the age of 100 and beyond. The rise has resulted in the growth of the Sandwich Generation – adults in their 40s and 50s who support their parents at the same time as supporting children – often while juggling full time employment.

This generational shift presents new challenges to individuals …and the workplace. For employees who have dual responsibilities for parents and children, the impact on mental wellbeing can be overwhelming. Especially if they do not have the support and flexibility they need from their employers.

This is all set to change from April next year.

ACAS will produce a new statutory Code of Practice on the right to request flexible working from day one of employment. (currently only employees who have worked for their employer for 26 weeks have the right to ask).

Employers will need to be prepared to put strategies in place to facilitate this new era of flexible working if they are to avoid costly claims and tribunals.

In Q1 of 2023, the Employment Tribunal received 7,900 single claims and there were still 35,000 ongoing open cases by the end of June.[1] When the new legislation comes into force next year, if employers do not comply, these numbers could rise considerably.

In times of acute work-life juggling, workers need employers who will provide as much support – and understanding as possible. Some companies have already responded by offering flexible working as the norm and additional periods of carer leave to employees. Others have been more reticent.

However, with 1 in 7 of the UK workforce caring for a loved one and an average of 600 people a day leaving work[2] because of caring responsibilities, from next April they may have no choice but to comply.

An urgent mind-set and strategy shift may be necessary if employers want to create conditions that allow staff to remain in the workplace – and collect children from school or take elderly parents to hospital appointments.

With Irwell’s Employment Dispute Protection Insurance, clients can help them defend against potential lengthy and costly employment tribunals which could be a much-needed lifeline for many businesses.

[1] Tribunal Statistics Quarterly: April to June 2023 – GOV.UK (

[2] Research: More than 600 people quit work to look after older and disabled relatives every day | Carers UK