Can I ask to work from home when I start a new job?

BOILING POINT: Kate Brooks, partner and head of employment at Ellis Jones Solicitors, says employers must take reasonable steps to mitigate the effects of the heatwave in the workplace

WFH: Kate Brooks, partner and head of employment at Ellis Jones Solicitors, says employers have the right to request flexible working on day one of a new job

Legal changes mean employees have the right to ask to work from home on day one of a new job, according to employment experts at a regional law firm.

The shake-up of flexible working rules is among a raft of employment law modifications which have come into force this month. (April 2024)

Ellis Jones Solicitors – with six offices across the south coast and London – has urged employers to ensure procedures are in place to meet the new legislation.

Previously, before April 6, workers must have been employed for at least 26 weeks before they could make a request for flexible working.

This includes working part-time, term time, compressed hours and remotely. One such request could be made every 12 months.

Now, under the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, employees can request flexible working from their first day in a new job and they can make two requests in any 12 month period.

Kate Brooks, head of Employment/HR services at Ellis Jones, said: “Flexible working, particularly remote working, remains a major issue for some businesses and their employees.

“The changes mean that the employee not only has the right to request flexible working from their first day, they no longer have to explain what effect it would have on the employer and how any effect might be dealt with.

“The onus is now on the employer, who must make a decision within two months and any refusal must be for one of eight prescribed reasons.

“It is paramount to consider an individual’s request on a case-by-case basis, and not adopt a general approach to rejecting flexible work requests as this could amount to unlawful discrimination.”

Employers are urged to review and update their policies to align with the new regulations, put a flexible work request policy in place and consider training for managers.

Kate said: “These changes to flexible working are long awaited.

“Clearly some firms need their people in the workplace. However, more generally, not only are there clear benefits for workers but these new measures will also be beneficial to many businesses.

“Research has shown that businesses that embrace flexible working can attract a more talented pool of employees and increase staff motivation, which in turn reduces staff turnover and increases retention.

“Employers are encouraged to embrace the shift in workplace dynamics, and see this as a positive opportunity for their business to grow and excel.”

Other employment law changes which have come into force this month cover redundancy protection during pregnancy, maternity leave, adoption leave and shared parental leave.

There have also been changes to the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage and increases to statutory family-related pay and sick pay.

Looking ahead, there will be amendments to the law covering the duty of employers to prevent sexual harassment of their employees coming into force in October.

In July, new rules will mean that 100% of all tips are paid to workers in full without deductions and fairly.

Ellis Jones has 178 staff including 21 partners in offices in Bournemouth, Poole (Canford Cliffs), Ringwood, Swanage and Wimborne plus Fleet Street in London.

Visit to find out more about changes in employment law.