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Flexible working bill: what employers need to know

flexible working bill
The right to request flexible working will soon be available to all employees from their first day on the job. 

The government has announced a raft of new measures that will impact workers' rights. The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill, proposed by Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi, was approved in the House of Lords on 7 Dec 2022 and will soon come into effect. 

Updating the existing rights to request flexible working are projected to improve accessibility, make the workplace fairer, and benefit working mothers (who are still predominantly the primary carers for children).

As an employer, here's a quick snapshot of what you need to know about the Flexible Working Bill.

Employees can now request flexible working from day one 

Previously, employees needed to have worked for a company for 26 weeks or more before employers were required to consider flexible working arrangements. 

Now, employees can ask for flexible working as soon as they join the company, and it is up to you as an employer to try to accommodate their request. 

Flexible working doesn't just mean working from home 

Employees have the right to ask for a number of reasonable adjustments to accommodate flexible working patterns, including:
  • Working from home full-time
  • Hybrid working (a combination of remote and in-office/on-site work)
  • Job sharing 
  • Compressed hours 
  • Staggered hours
  • Alternative working practices, such as a 14-day shift pattern 

You need to attempt to accommodate an employee's request

Employers cannot simply reject a flexible working request. Instead, they need to consult with employees and explore available options. 

For example, if you can't accommodate home working every day of the week, you should explore partial remote working options. 

Or, if you can't accommodate a job-sharing arrangement, you must set out the exact reasons and, where possible, work with the employee to find a suitable alternative working structure.

Employees can now make flexible working requests twice a year 

Previously, employers only needed to consider flexible working requests once within a 12-month period. If you reject an employee's request for flexible working, you must explore alternative arrangements again if an employee asks you to.

You must respond to an employee's flexible working request within two months

Previously, employers had three months to respond to requests. 

Employees no longer need to suggest how an employer could accommodate their flexible working request 

Instead, they can submit a request, and it is up to you, the employer, to determine how you might accommodate it.

Next steps

It's now well worth considering how to create job roles that can accommodate flexibility. 

The Flexible Working Bill will impact job requirements and profiles. Employees will also be keen to understand the measures you have in place to accommodate flexible working. 

If you'd like to discuss how the Flexible Working Bill could impact your company, contact the recruitment specialists at Eden Scott.

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