The Government is to introduce a new right for all staff to request flexible working from the first day in a new job. And the right will extend to job-sharing, staggered hours and flexitime, writes Rhian Radia.
The working patterns of many people in the workplace have changed dramatically over the past two years, with hybrid working patterns increasingly commonplace.
Many of us now enjoy a blended approach, working two or three days a week in the office and the rest of the week at home.
Now, the Government has proposed to introduce a new right to request flexible working arrangements from the first day of employment, something that is currently only available after 26 weeks of employment.
The proposals aim to provide job seekers with greater clarity on working arrangements, recognising that many job advertisements do not make it clear if flexible working is an option or not. Those that want or need flexible working arrangements often cannot afford to wait 26 weeks to make a request.
The proposal will also allow staff to make two requests for flexible working in any 12 month window and require employers to respond to each request within two months.
The proposals, to be published shortly in legislation, are expected to include a requirement for employers to discuss ‘alternative arrangements’ to flexible working if a request cannot be accommodated and before rejecting it. It always was just a right to request flexible working and not a right to work flexibly. However, needing to justify a rejection with consideration of what could work is new ground.
The proposals will also go beyond the right to work from home to include job-sharing, staggered hours and flexitime.
The Government’s small business minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “Giving staff more say over their working pattern makes for happier employees and more productive businesses. Put simply, it’s a no-brainer. Greater flexibility over where, when, and how people work is an integral part of our plan to make the UK the best place in the world to work.”
This development is not before time. Some would say that in this post pandemic world where recruitment and retention is a live issue, this new right is not significant. Where flexibility is a driver, this will inevitably form part of an employee’s decision about whether to take a particular job from the outset.
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The above is accurate as at 07 December 2022. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.