Flexible working – are requests coming your way?

Sep 28, 2021 | HR

Flexible working – what is it and what’s changing?

Currently, an employee has a right to request flexible working if they have 26 or more weeks of continuous service with an employer.

However, the Government has published a consultation which includes a proposal to make the right to request flexible working a day one right.

In other words, if the proposal is approved, employees will be able to request flexible working from their first day of employment.

What else does the new proposal set out to do?

The consultation aims to “support flexible working in all its forms – so that employers and employees are better able to consider and make arrangements which suit their particular circumstances”.

What’s covered?

Points under consideration include:

Whether the right to request flexible working should be made a day one right;

Whether the existing 8 business reasons for refusing a request all remain valid;

Whether an employer should be obliged to suggest alternatives in the event that a request is refused;

If the administrative process that accompanies the current right to request flexible working is fit for purpose or should be changed; and

how to make better use of the provisions which allow a temporary flexible arrangement to be requested.

What do you really need to know?

At this point, it’s a proposal that the Government has put forward.

If approved, this will mean that rather than waiting 26 weeks to be able to request flexible working, an employee will be able to make that request from the first day of their employment.

This does not mean that they will have a request automatically granted but in considering the whole process that underpins these requests (including the current valid reasons an employer can give for refusing such a request), the Government is sending a clear statement that flexible working is under the microscope.

You need look no further than the title of the consultation itself to see which way the wind is blowing… it’s called Making flexible working the default.

Not only that but given the current trends for home working, hybrid working* and other types of flexibility, we’d anticipate that most employers are going to have to give some serious thought to how flexible or otherwise they currently are and how that may need to change in the future.

With more and more people resigning and citing lack of employer flexibility as one of their reasons, it’s more important than ever that businesses move away from the view that 9-5 working at a desk or in a workplace is the only way for work to get done.

*Download your free copy of our hybrid working whitepaper for additional information.


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