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Flexible working will become the “default” for employees
Last week Amazon announced that, for warehouse workers, it is to offer parents term-time only contracts. The new contracts would guarantee those who care for school-age children, including guardians, six weeks of holiday in the summer and two weeks over the Easter and Christmas breaks. Employees will be entitled to all full-time benefits.
Following a recent UK Government consultation, flexible working will become the default for millions of employees who will be able to request flexible working from day one of their employment.
Flexible working doesn’t just mean a combination of working from home and in the office – it can mean employees making use of job-sharing, flexitime, and working compressed, annualised, or staggered hours.
The new measures will give employees greater access to flexibility over where, when, and how they work, and the government hopes this will lead to happier, more productive staff. Flexible working has been found to help employees balance their work and home life, especially supporting those who have commitments or responsibilities such as caring for children or vulnerable people.
The consultation on flexible working has ended and the government response to the consultation confirms intention to introduce changes to the right to request flexible working legislation. This right currently supports all employees with 26 weeks continuous service to make applications to change their work location, working hours, and/or working pattern.
The response states that the government will take forward the following measures to:
- make the right to request flexible working a day one right;
- introduce a new requirement for employees to consult with the employee when they intend to reject their flexible working request;
- allow 2 statutory requests in any 12-month period (rather than the current one);
- require a decision period of 2 months in respect of a statutory flexible working request (rather than the current three); and
- remove the existing requirement that the employee must explain what effect, if any, the change applied for would have on the employer and how that effect might be dealt with.
The response also commits to:
- developing guidance to raise awareness and understanding of how to make and administer temporary requests for flexible working; and
- launching a call for evidence to better understand how informal flexible working operates in practice.
It also includes a summary of the responses received from individuals and stakeholders.
See: Making flexible working the default - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)