Staff set to gain right to request flexible working from day one

Staff in the UK are set to gain the right to request flexible working from the first day in a job under government plans to modernise the way the country works. The plans would give around 2.2 million more people the right to request flexible working.

The proposals come as many firms make plans to return staff to offices, and anticipate receiving more formal and informal requests for flexibility. Business group the CBI says employers largely support the proposals, but that there may sometimes be a good argument for refusal.

Matthew Fell, CBI chief policy director, said: “Businesses have learnt a huge amount about the pros and cons of flexible working during the pandemic, with many firms expecting to receive more formal and informal requests in the future. Employers support giving employees the right to request flexible working from day one in the job.

“Companies want to work with the government to ensure that they can say ‘no’ when they have properly considered requests but for good reason can’t accept them.”

Welcoming the news, Philip Richardson, partner and head of employment law at Stephensons Solicitors LLP said the announcement encouraged a more opaque relationship between staff and bosses.

“This announcement by the government will be a welcome one and a timely intervention at a period when home working has become the norm for thousands of people. The past 12-months have underlined how productive workers can be, when given the right support, to work remotely and productively away from the traditional office setting,” Richardson said.

“Flexible working requests would often be viewed as a daunting conversation, however this change makes for a much more upfront and transparent relationship between employer and employee.”

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