Employees will be allowed to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period
On Monday the government said it would introduce legislation giving employees the right to request flexible working arrangements from the moment they start a job. It also said about 1.5 million low-paid workers, including some gig economy employees, students and carers, would benefit from a new law ensuring they are free to boost their income by taking on a second job if they wished.
The move has been welcomed by unions, who urged ministers to go further in terms of making such arrangements the norm.
Joanne Frew, global head of Employment law at DWF, commented: “Employees will be allowed to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period (previously only one request could be made in any 12-month period) and employers will be required to respond to requests within two months (previously employers had three months to respond). Employees will no longer be required to set out how the effects of the request might be dealt with by the employer.
“The last two and a half years have seen an unprecedented increase in flexible working, with the pandemic acting as a catalyst for change. Despite the tightening up of the flexible working regime outlined by the Government; many employers are already offering increased flexibility.
“In order to retain top talent and promote a culture of diversity and inclusion, it is essential that employers take flexible working requests seriously and consider innovative ways to make requests work. Open communication between the employer and employee is key.
“Having a blanket policy of not allowing employees to work flexibly can be incredibly detrimental to organisations, from the risk of discrimination claims to a reduced talent pool. However, it is also important that employers retain the right to refuse certain requests when there is an insurmountable clash with business needs – the response to the consultation makes it clear that the current list of business reasons for refusing a flexible working request will be retained.