Workers to be given right to request flexible working from day one

Changes aimed at giving people more flexibility are being brought forward by the UK Government.

Workers to be given right to request flexible working from day one iStock

Millions of workers across the UK are to be handed the right to request flexible working from day one of their employment.

It comes under plans being brought forward by the UK Government to make flexible working the default.

A range of new measures are to be introduced aiming to give staff the ability to choose where, when and how they work.

Ministers hope that the move will help lead to happier and more productive workforces across the country.

They have indicated that flexible working would not just mean a combination of working from home and in the office.

It would also allow people to make use of job-sharing and flexitime, as well as compressed, annualised or staggered hours.

A consultation on the issue was launched by the Government in seeking the views of people across the UK, as well as businesses.

The Government has confirmed that it will commit to removing the 26-week qualifying period before employees can request flexible working, making it a day one right.

It has also indicated it will require employers to consult with their employees before rejecting a flexible working requests.

Employees would also be enabled to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period, with employers required to respond to requests within two months.

There is also a commitment to remove the requirement for employees to set out how the effects of their flexible working request might be dealt with by their employer.

If an employer cannot accommodate a request to work flexibly, they will be required to discuss alternative options before they can reject the request.

Around 1.5 million low-paid workers are also set to be given more flexibility, with a new law coming into force to remove exclusivity clause restrictions – allowing them to work for multiple employers if they wish to.

Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord indicated that flexibility in work has become the norm.

“These measures will embed greater flexibility for employees into corporate practice,” he said.

“The proposed legislation, which the UK Government is committing to in response to the Making Flexible Working the Default consultation, will remove exclusivity in clauses and make flexible working more accessible to millions of employees.

“In recent years, flexibility has increasingly become the norm and these steps will be welcomed by many.”

Small business minister Kevin Hollinrake described it as a “no-brainer” to bring forward the changes.

He 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.”

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