A consultation paper due to be published on Thursday 23rd September outlines a change in the law and rights of employees.
Flexible working can look very different in different workplaces around the country, part time working, job shares, compressed hours, or working from home to name a few examples. However, these options are not necessarily available to all members of staff.
The current legislation states that employees can make a flexible working request if they have the following:
- You are legally classed as an employee
- You have 26 weeks of service
- You have not made a request within the past 12 months.
It is now believed that the law is set to change to make flexible working requests more accessible to all employees and give them the right to make a request from the first day of work, scrapping the requirement to have worked with their employer for 26 weeks.
Why is this change happening?
While many have hailed the pandemic as a driver for the adoption of flexible working practises the reality for many is that this is not the case. Employers are more often being called to embrace flexible working arrangements to give opportunity and choice to all. Research shows that offering flexible working explicitly in job adverts increases applications by up to 30%. This not only opens opportunities to women (who are twice as likely to work flexibly than men) it can help to reduce geographical inequality as the country recovers from the impact of the pandemic.
Couple this with the recent hike in vacancies and this may explain why there appears to be changes ahead for flexible working requests. The current law states that workers are only allowed to make a formal statutory request after they have been working continuously for a 26-week period. It is believed that there are plans to amend that to allow workers to make a formal request from day one, something that the CIPD have been calling for in recent months.
Employees to gain new rights
This gives all workers the right to request a flexible working variation to their contract, this does not mean however that it will automatically be accepted by their employer. Whilst employers cannot refuse a request for no good reason, there are a number of reasons that are widely accepted as justifiable to refuse flexible working requests, whether the individual has been working continuously for the past 26 weeks or not.
These proposals would also see employers having to respond to requests for flexible working more quickly than the current maximum of three months.
How can we help?
Whilst offering flexible working can increase competitiveness, within certain industries it just won’t be possible. For the legalities around flexible working, requests have a look here and to understand how these impending changes may affect you contact our experienced lawyers and HR Advisors today.
For advice or for a free assessment contact us today