Flexible working to become law

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK Government proposes a new bill to allow new employees the right to request flexible working from the outset of their employment, rather than the current minimum of 26 weeks of employment.

Whilst the right to request flexible working became law in 2014, it was mentioned again in the Government’s 2019 manifesto; and has been highlighted again after two years of businesses adapting and changing their way of working during the global coronavirus pandemic. The new Flexible Working Bill was presented to Parliament in June 2021.

The Government hopes that these plans will boost productivity throughout organisations whilst considering both employer and employee needs.

“Empowering workers to have more say over where and when they work makes for more productive businesses and happier employees”

—Kwasi Kwarteng, Business secretary

While the plan is to make flexible working the default approach to employment, it recognises that this may not be possible throughout every industry. Thus, the plans will still enable employers to reject flexible working requests where there is a reasonable business reason to do so.

What could this mean for you?

Positive outcomes Less desirable outcomes
You might find a better match of business resources and demand, for example making the most out of office space and facilities such as hot desking. Compressed working hours may mean client availability suffers.
Employees tend to have a better level of wellbeing and job satisfaction as well; reducing absenteeism. People/performance management may be harder.
Flexible working makes you a more accessible employer, leading to better diversity. Without the right employee engagement tools, productivity may slip.

The new Flexible Working Bill will need to pass through several stages within Parliament before royal assent and is already trending to be popular. While the new bill is not yet part of UK law, employers can currently create their own policies to allow flexible working requests before the minimum 26-week period.

Further Information:

GOV.UK — Millions to be empowered by government plans…

Department for Buiness, Energy & Industrial Strategy — Making Flexible Working the Default.