Employees to be able to request flexible working from day one
The pandemic has brought a shift in attitudes to flexible working and to work life balance, with employees are now expecting more flexible work patterns. Around 27% of working adults worked from home in 2020 during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
A number of firms, such as Lloyds Banking Group, have since introduced hundreds of roles that are now permanently done from home.
There are different ways of working flexibly such as working less hours, condensed or compressed hours, phased retirement, shift swapping and job-sharing.
The government has recently announced that the right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees, from day one of employment.
This new law is part of a package of measures that will be introduced by the government with the aim of “making flexible working the default”.
The government proposals include-
Workers will not have to wait for 26 weeks to seek flexible arrangements, as set out under the current law.
Employers will have to consult with their employees to explore the options available before rejecting a flexible working request.
The time limit for employers to respond to any requests will be reduced from the current 3 months to 2 months.
There will no longer be a requirement for employees to set out how the effects of their flexible working request might be dealt with by their employer.
Employees will be allowed to make two flexible working requests in a 12 month period, currently this is one request per 12 month period.
The Minister for Small Businesses, 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.’
The CIPD said the new plans would make workplaces “more inclusive”.
Of course this will cause some concern among some employers, particularly small businesses that may not have the resources to cover flexible working arrangements.
The government also wants to introduce laws that make it easier for people on low incomes to get a second job.
The government said it planned to remove “exclusivity clause restrictions” for workers on contracts who are paid £123 or less a week. This will allow people to work for multiple employers and take on second jobs.
These reforms will ensure around 1.5 million low paid workers can make the most of the opportunities available to them such as working multiple short-term contracts. This will particularly benefit those who need more flexibility over where and when they work, for example students or people with caring responsibilities.
With more and more employers looking to do their bit when it comes to employee wellbeing and work-life balance, these new changes will assist in conversations taking place at a much earlier stage in the employment relationship, with both parties then knowing where they stand – rather than employees waiting and making such requests six months down the line.
When will the new changes come into force?
The changes will be introduced through legislation when “parliamentary time allows” – giving ample time to review your flexible working policy or to make sure you have one in place before the law comes into effect.
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