Employees could be given the right to request flexible working from the first day of a job under rule changes supported by the government.
The government has committed to scrapping the 26-week period that employees must currently wait before requesting flexible working, which includes job-sharing, flexitime and remote working. It also includes working compressed, annualised, or staggered hours.
The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill, first introduced by Labour’s Yasmin Qureshi, aims to make it easier for workers to request flexible working arrangements by requiring employers to explore available options before rejecting a request.
Kevin Hollinrake, minister for small business, said: “Giving staff more say over their working pattern makes for happier employees and more productive businesses. Put simply, it’s a no-brainer.”
However, the proposed rule changes do not make it mandatory for employers to offer flexible working.
Molly Johnson-Jones, CEO and co-founder of Flexa, a flexible working job platform, told UKTN: “There is a huge difference between allowing and enabling flexible working. This won’t help us to progress significantly and is likely to cause resentment of those who work flexibly across those companies by their managers. It’s like forcing a child to eat broccoli – they’re going to hate broccoli.”
Flexible working has soared since the pandemic and many UK startups have used it to attract sought-after talent.
Some tech companies, including Durham-based fintech Atom Bank, have introduced a four-day work week. A separate UK-wide trial saw approximately 70 firms reduce their working week to four days without pay reductions.
A recent survey found that flexible working was the most desirable perk for full-time employees.
The flexible working bill is currently at the committee stage in the parliamentary process, which means it has two more stages in the House of Commons before it reaches the Lords.
Hollinrake added: “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.”