Tory ministers are unveiling a planned change to the law which will allow workers to request flexible working from day one in a job – not six months in as it is currently
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Some 2.2.million extra Brits will be able to request working from home under a shake-up to be unveiled on Thursday.
Tory ministers plan to let workers ask for flexible working from Day One in a job – rather than six months in, under current rules.
The long-awaited plans will also narrow down the list circumstances in which firms can reject a request to work flexibly.
The three-month window for firms to respond could be cut and the limit of one request per worker per year could be axed.
The rights include requests to work from home, part time or on flexible or staggered hours, job-share or take phased retirement.
Employers would still be allowed to reject requests for a valid reason, but the government said they will “need to think about” what alternatives they can offer.
This could mean changing an employee’s working hours for some days of the week rather than all of them.
In a separate move, unpaid carers who juggle a job will be able to take a week’s unpaid leave as a day one right.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Empowering workers to have more say over where and when they work makes for more productive businesses and happier employees.
“It was once considered a ‘nice to have’, but by making requests a day one right, we’re making flexible working part of the DNA of businesses across the country.
“A more engaged and productive workforce, a higher calibre of applicants and better retention rates – the business case for flexible working is compelling.”
But TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Flexible working should be a day-one right that’s available to everyone.
“But under these plans employers will still have free rein to turn down all or any requests for flexible working.
“Instead of tinkering around the edges, ministers should change the law so that workers have the legal right to work flexibly from the first day in the job. The right to ask nicely is no right at all.
“Not all jobs can support every kind of flexible working – but all jobs can support some kind of flexible working.
“All job adverts should make clear what kind of flexibility is available.”
Baroness Kishwer Falkner, who chairs the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “We have long been highlighting the benefits of flexible working – from unlocking career opportunities for women, carers and disabled people, to helping employers attract and retain a more diverse workforce.
“Its benefits are clear, and the pandemic has proved that different forms of flexible working can work in practice to benefit both employer and employee.
“The Government’s consultation is a welcome first step towards flexible working becoming a default day one right, where possible.”