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Employment law for employees & Employment law for employers

Government to introduce right to flexible working from first day of employment

It has been reported that the Government intends to introduce legislation to grant employees the right to flexible working from day one of employment.

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It has been reported that the Government intends to introduce legislation to grant employees the right to flexible working from day one of employment. Daniel Zona, an Associate in the Employment team comments.

Currently, employees must wait until they have 26 weeks’ continuous service before they have the right to make a statutory application for flexible working. There is currently no right to flexible working itself, although there are certain concessions to this, for example if flexible working arrangements are required as a reasonable adjustment. There is only the right to make a request flexible working arrangements and complimentary rights to not suffer detriments or be unfairly dismissed for making a request.

Over the past 18 months, many have reaped the benefits of working more flexibly and from home. The proposal that employees can make these requests from day is a positive step in encouraging a flexible workforce.

However, if employers are not encouraged or required to more readily accept these applications, then the impact may not be as great as the Government hopes. Currently, employers are able to refuse a request for a variety of business reasons and once a request is refused, the employee is unable to make another formal request for up to 12 months.

The Government may need to consider other measures to strengthen the employee’s right if it truly wants to engender a more flexible workforce, such as reducing the grounds for refusal or making it easier to challenge a refusal in the Employment Tribunal.

The pandemic has forced many to work from home and to work flexibly and agilely. With an end to restrictions and a slow return to normality employers are having to consider what their workforce will look like going forward. Many are already considering and offering more flexibility in the place, time and hours staff work.

This is an opportunity for employers to be really creative in encouraging an efficient, happy and productive workforce and to throw off the shackles of more traditional working practices.

Read our previous article on a new mother reportedly awarded £185,000 for having her request for flexible working removed here.

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Daniel Zona

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daniel.zona@collyerbristow.com



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