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In December 2022, The Government released plans to make flexible working the default position for employers and employees.
This involves the introduction of the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill, the publication of new guidance and a promise of further consultation.
In 2014 employees with at least 26 weeks of continuous service were given the legal right to submit a maximum of one request in a 12-month period to change the contractual terms of their employment.
This could be related to their hours, times and place of work. The employer could then only reject this request should they be able to apply at least one of the eight business reasons for doing so
The eight reasons are"
The proposed changes are:
In due course, the government also plans to further call for evidence on how ‘informal flexibility’ (where ad hoc flexible working is permitted without formally changing the employment contract) works in practice.
The proposal has mainly received a favourable response to the ‘day one’. However, there is still a minority that believes it will reduce Productivity.
Employers can benefit in several ways from flexible working, such as:
There are also concerns that negotiations to change T&Cs as soon as day one will cause friction between employees and employers. However, the government believes this can be negated by the employer designing job adverts, roles, and the recruitment process to cover flexible working.
Other concerns for employers may be:
Flexible working should be considered a positive thing. Still, employers need to fully engage in this type of culture for it to work. They may need to invest in their infrastructure, and Managers may need to review employee performance differently. For example, setting clear targets and goals.
Should you have any concerns or wish to explore how you can be proactive ahead of the likely change, please get in touch with your HR Advisor.