Employees to be given more Flexible Working Rights
The right to flexible working could be a day-one right for employees.
Millions of employees have become used to working from home, for many staff it is seen as an ad hoc agreement that suits both employers and employees, but now employment law guidelines state that flexible working could become a right from day one of employment.
“Lots of business owners wherever possible have become much more adaptable with job-sharing, working from home, term-time and family friendly working policies, or compressed hours and this is something many employees enjoy. There is often a strong business case for flexible working creating a more diverse workplace and workforce, which studies have shown often leads to improved financial returns.” said Partner and Employment Law Solicitor, Susan Mayall.
“The UK government has said it will introduce legislation giving employees the right to request flexible working arrangements from the moment they start a job,” she added.
Current law says that all employees can make a flexible working request after 26 weeks in a job, one request can be made every 12 months and employers have three months to respond.
“The new proposed guidelines allow two requests to be made within a 12 month period and employers have to respond within 2 months. However, the thing to note is that this is a request not an entitlement and there are many circumstances where it might not be possible,” added Susan Mayall.
Flexible Working Policies and Practices
We would advise employers to review and update their flexible working policies and practices to ensure compliance with the new framework once it comes into law.
All changes should be communicated clearly to staff and HR teams should be up to speed. Pearson Solicitors Employment department have communicated the proposed changes to clients and are on hand to answer any questions as they arise.
Refusing a Flexible Working Request
If an employer cannot accommodate a request to work flexibly, they will be required to discuss alternative options before they can reject the request. There is however no change to the eight reasons the employers have to refuse a flexible working request.
- Planned structural changes in the business
- The burden of additional costs
- Detrimental impact on quality or standards
- Inability to recruit additional employees
- Detrimental impact on performance
- Inability to reorganise workload amongst current employees
- Detrimental impact on the ability to meet customer demand
- Lack of work during the periods proposed to work
Flexible Working Request Changes 2022-23
When this comes into force it will be a right from day one. It is a much more simplified procedure. Employees will not have to set out how the employer is affected by the request and the waiting period is reduced to two months.
The government is supporting a Private Member's Bill (the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill) which passed its Second Reading in October 2022 and is listed for the remaining stages in February 2023.
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Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.