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New bill in progress- Flexible working; Know your rights.

Posted: 04 January 2023

Hybrid working has become a new way of life since the Covid-19 pandemic however it is not a blanket opportunity for everyone. If flexi-working is a benefit you look for in a job, you will be pleased to hear that a new bill is progressing through parliament putting an onerous on employers to consider requests for variations to terms and conditions of employment, including working hours, times, and locations.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working is more than just hybrid working between the office and home, it also means employees may make use of job-sharing, flexitime and working compressed, annualised, or staggered hours.

New bill in progress- Flexi-working

What are your rights to flexi-working now?

The right to ask for flexible working already exists. Employees may request flexible working after 26 weeks of continuous employment, and you employer is required to respond to your request within three months.

A request for flexible Woking may be made once in a 12-month period and if your request is denied your employer must have a valid business reason for rejecting your request.

What will your rights be under the proposed legislation?

Government response to the bill confirms their intention to introduce changes to the right to request flexi-working.

The response indicates that employees may be given the right to request flexible working from first beginning employment and be able to make a request up to twice in a twelve-month period. An employer will need to respond within two months and consult with employees prior to rejecting their request.

The previous legislation placed a burden on employees to explain the effects of flexible working however, the proposed bill makes flexible working the default and removes this burden.

The new bill means workers will have a say over when, where and how they work.

What should I do as an employer?

It is important to have a policy to ensure standardization of flexi-working across your business. Whilst not following legal procedure or rejecting a request without a valid reason does carry a tribunal risk, there is also a risk that the rejection could be attributed to discrimination.

Whilst legal procedure should be at the forefront of your firm’s flexi-working procedures it may also be important to consider the impact on the appeal to work for your business and the moral of the staff already working for you.

Something that should be considered is the role of the person making a flexi-working request; Some roles do not offer themselves to flexible working, in comparison to more senior, management roles. Basing your decision on rejecting or granting a flexi-working request off of the role of your employee may cause dissent within the work environment which could impede business. It is thought around 1.5 million low paid workers will be given more flexibility with the new law.

As a business you should be prepared for receiving more flexible working requests, if flexi-working is something that is already engaged with and standardised within your business the new legislation may have little effect on you however if not, a burden will be placed on you to manage requests.

Ignoring the fact that flexible work is a new normal since the pandemic may hinder the recruitment and retention of staff within your business. While there are clear benefits to workers it is also said that the new law will create a more diverse working environment and workforce which has been shown to lead to improve financial turnover.

If you have any questions or need any advice, please get in touch.  Call 01245 493 959 or send an email

 

 

 

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