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Staff in the UK are set to have a right to request flexible working from day one


08 Dec, 2022

This week the government said it would introduce legislation giving employees the right to request flexible working arrangements from the moment they start a job. They also announced that 1.5 million low-paid workers, including 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.

In summary the government committed to:

- making flexible working a right from day one by removing the 26-week qualifying period
- require employers to consult with their employees, as a means of exploring the available options, before rejecting a flexible working request
- allow employees to make 2 flexible working requests in any 12-month period
- require employers to respond to requests within 2 months, down from 3
- remove the requirement for employees to set out how the effects of their flexible working request might be dealt with by their employer

Flexible working can take many forms, from part-time hours, job-shares, working from home and compressed hours. It enables employees to juggle their work and home life more easily, while employers can access a wider talent pool and benefit from a more productive and engaged staff.

This new right will mean that employees can approach their employers with the request for flexible working arrangements right away, and employers will be obligated to consider the request. It is an important step for employers to understand that investing in employee wellbeing and providing flexible working options can have positive effects on productivity and morale.

Overall, this new right for staff in the UK to ask for flexible working from their first day in a job is a welcome development for employees, employers and the wider economy. Employers should take the opportunity to explore the benefits of flexible working, and seize the opportunity to create a more productive and engaged workforce.