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10th May 2022

Flexible Working – A Day One Right?

Are workers set to have the right to flexible working from the first day of employment except in exceptional circumstances? Stephanie Wiggans, Employment Solicitor at Napthens explains.

The Flexible Working Bill was put to Parliament at the end of 2021 following a consultation into the current flexible working requirements. The proposal includes a day one right to make a flexible working request. At the moment, employees must have been employed for 26 weeks before they are entitled to make a request.

CIPD research found that 46% of workers did not have access to any form of flexible working in their current role.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working gives employees the opportunity to request a change to their working pattern. Since the pandemic hit, the need for flexible working has become more apparent than ever. Flexible working can be anything from moving from full-time to part-time hours, to working from home and even job sharing with a colleague.

How do employers deal with flexible working requests?

Employers are legally required to consider flexible working requests and they must do so within 3 months. Employers must consider the request fairly but can refuse a request for a number of reasons, including the request being too expensive for the employer to accommodate or the inability to re-organise work amongst existing employees.

QCS customers should refer to the Flexible Working Policy and Procedure for guidance on handling a request.

What does this mean for employees?

Employers must deal with requests on a case-by-case basis and be fair and consistent with their approach. According to Trades Union Congress (TUC), one in three flexible working requests are turned down. Introducing flexible working requests as a day one right is a positive step in the right direction, but is it enough?

The right to request flexible working is often focused at employees working traditional 9-5 jobs in the workplace and there are naturally additional challenges in the care sector. It can be difficult to accommodate flexibility within the care industry, particularly considering that most roles cannot be carried out remotely. However, employers can still balance flexibility for their staff with meeting the needs of service users and ensuring consistent high-quality care.

There is now an indication that the Government has moved to postpone and potentially make a ‘u-turn’ on plans to make flexible working a legal right. At the time of drafting, the Flexible Working Bill is currently working its way through the House of Commons. In the meantime, watch this space.

If you have any queries or in need of specific advice in relation to any Employment law query, please contact a member of the Napthens Employment team who are able to offer 30 minutes of free advice to QCS members.

Further Information

UK Parliament - Flexible Working Bill 2021


*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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