Whilst we haven't got a date for its implementation, The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill once implemented will give employees in the UK the ability to request flexible working from day 1 of their employment instead of after 26 weeks. The CIPD have been campaigning for this change using its 'Flex from 1st' slogan with its Chief Executive, Peter Cheese, said to be delighted by the announcement.
What does this mean for businesses?
Once the new law is in place;
employees will no longer have to wait until they have been employed for 26 weeks before making a flexible working request, they'll have the right to do this from day 1 of their employment
employees will be able to make 2 flexible working requests in a 12-month period, previously only 1 request was allowed
employers will have to respond to requests within 2 months of their receipt, previously this was within 3 months
employees will no longer as part of their request have to set out how the effects of their flexible working request could be dealt with by their employer
For now though, businesses can continue to process requests in the normal way. You can see the official government announcement here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/millions-of-britons-to-be-able-to-request-flexible-working-on-day-one-of-employment
Why does it matter?
According to the CIPD;
"Evidence suggests that those who have greater flexibility report higher levels of job satisfaction, well-being and performance in their roles. The provision of more flexible jobs and workplaces will also help organisations attract and retain a more diverse workforce, boosting their ability to address skill and labour shortages".
We'd always suggest doing the right thing for your employees and for your business. Practically speaking it's often the case that people need flexible working before they've been in the business for 26 weeks, for reasons beyond their own control, and at those times employers that offer flexibility are likely to have more engaged more satisfied employees.
Who isn't happy about the change?
According to Personnel Today James Dyson, Chief Engineer and Founder of technology firm Dyson, has strongly criticised the government's decision saying it hampers an employers ability to organise their workforce as they judge fit in a competitive world”. Dyson went on to say;
"High-growth companies would think twice before investing in the UK where they had “little control over how and where” staff work and predicted that minister’s approach would lead to friction between employers and employees. “Factory workers, bus drivers and retail staff cannot work from home – so the government is deepening the divide, creating a highly invidious two-tier workforce”, Dyson said.
Others, however, have said that the new law doesn't actually go far enough and being able to request flexible working isn't the same as actually getting it.
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https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/dyson-critical-of-new-flexible-working-right/ accessed 10/12/2022
All information within this post is provided for guidance only, always seek your own legal advice
The information with this post was correct at the time of publishing, December 2022 but may be subject to change