Millions of employees will be able to request flexible working from day one of their employment, under new government plans to make flexible working the default.
Flexible working doesn’t just mean a combination of working from home and in the office – it can mean employees making use of job-sharing, flexitime, and working compressed, annualised, or staggered hours.
The new measures will give employees greater access to flexibility over where, when, and how they work, and the government hopes will lead to happier, more productive staff. Flexible working has been found to help employees balance their work and home life, especially supporting those who have commitments or responsibilities such as caring for children or vulnerable people.
Last week’s announcement came alongside new laws coming into effect that will allow Britain’s lowest paid workers to work more flexibly and boost their income through extra work.
The measures the government is committing to will:
- remove the 26-week qualifying period before employees can request flexible working, making it a day-one right;
- require employers to consult with their employees, as a means of exploring the available options, before rejecting a flexible working request;
- allow employees to make 2 flexible working requests in any 12-month period;
- require employers to respond to requests within 2 months, down from 3; and
- remove the requirement for employees to set out how the effects of their flexible working request might be dealt with by their employer.
The day one right to request flexible working will be delivered through secondary legislation, with the other policies being introduced in the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill.
The government will also commit to non-legislative action: developing guidance to raise awareness and understanding of how to make and administer temporary requests for flexible working; and launching a call for evidence to better understand how informal flexible working operates in practice.
If you want a discussion and guidance regarding flexible working in your business, contact a member of our HR team.