flexible working requests

Flexible Working Requests to be a day-one right | Employment Law Update

Flexible Working Requests to be a day-one right | Employment Law Update

Kendal Hulme, our Head of Operations, provides a legal update on the Flexible Working Bill as changes mean that flexible working requests will now be a day-one right. Kendal discusses the impacts and challenges of these changes within this article.

Flexible Working Requests to be a day-one right

At present employees are only able to submit applications for flexible working after 26 weeks of continuous service. Plus there is a limit to only one request in any 12-month period. Following a year of campaigning by the CIPD, the right to #flexfrom1st was announced on 5th December by the Government.

Changes incorporated in The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill include:

  • The removal of the 26-week qualifying period before employees can request flexible working, making it a day-one right.
  • The requirement for employers to consult with their employees, as a means of exploring the available options, before rejecting a flexible working request.
  • Allowing employees to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period.
  • The requirement for employers to respond to requests within two months, down from three months.
  • The removal of the requirement for employees to set out how the effects of their flexible working request might be dealt with by their employer.

By changing this legislation, the Government hope to “make flexible working the default”. They want to encourage employers to embrace all variations of flexible working. This doesn’t just include hybrid but other options such as job shares, varying options of shifts, reduced hours, and flexitime.

Reducing the administrative requirements for both employers and employees, by removing the need to set out effects of flexible working requests, will hopefully encourage employees to raise requests regardless of their reasons. Through this changed legislation the Government are hoping for open communication between businesses and their employees in finding a way that working patterns can work for them both and ultimately moving away from the one size fits all approach.

Flexible working: the impact

For decades research has shown that the higher the flexibility in your role, the more job satisfaction you will get. Of course, this in turn leads to higher productivity and retention levels. In theory a win-win for both employees and employers. But in practice it does have its complications.

Since 2020 hybrid or remote working has become the norm for most and is a dealbreaker for jobseekers when looking for their next opportunity. Reed recruitment company conducted a survey which found that 45% of 2000 interviewed considered flexible working to be the top of their list of reasons that would encourage them to apply for a role. As the competition rises to secure the best talent, employers have no choice but to adapt to the way their employees work. But are businesses balancing this to maintain productivity?

Increasingly at HPC, we are receiving queries about the issues clients have with informal hybrid models. These were originally put in place as a temporary fix through the pandemic. Performance in some cases has dipped, and structure is often lacking. Our clients regularly seek our advice on how they can manage this and continue to support their employees whilst staying competitive in the ever-evolving employment market.

Key tips for tackling the challenge of a fully flexible workforce:

  • Supportive management – ensure your managers have the right level of training to work consistently across their departments regardless of their employees’ working patterns. One size does not fit all anymore.
  • Communication – make use of the platforms available to your teams and ensure that communication is constant with all team members.
  • Parity – ensure that you offer all employees equal opportunity and access to promotions, training, and all development.

For any advice on how we can support your business in creating a productive flexible workforce get in contact with our team of experts today.

T: 0330 107 1037

E: contact@hpc.uk.com

Twitter: @HPC_HRServices

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