Millions of employees will be able to request flexible working from day one of their employment under new Government plans to make flexible working the default.
Flexible working can mean employees making use of job-sharing, flexitime and working compressed, annualised or staggered hours.
New measures will give employees greater access to flexibility over where, when, and how they work. 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.
Alongside the benefits to employees there is also a strong business case for flexible working. By removing some of the invisible restrictions to jobs flexible working creates a more diverse working environment which studies have shown leads to improved financial returns.
This announcement comes alongside new laws coming into effect that will allow Britain’s lowest paid workers to work more flexibly and boost their income through extra work.
Workers on contracts with a guaranteed weekly income on or below the Lower Earnings Limit of £123 a week will now be protected from exclusivity clauses being enforced against them which restricted them from working for multiple employers.
These reforms will ensure around 1.5 million low paid workers can make the most of the opportunities available to them such as working multiple short-term contracts. This will particularly benefit those who need more flexibility over where and when they work.
The laws will also help businesses plug staffing gaps by giving employers access to recruit from a wider talent pool.
If an employer cannot accommodate a request to work flexibly, they will be required to discuss alternative options before they can reject the request. For example, if it is not possible to change an employee’s working hours on all days they could consider making the change for certain days instead.
The new legislation, backed in the Government’s response to the Making flexible working the default consultation, will also remove the requirement for employees to set out the effects of their flexible working requests to employers removing a large administrative burden for both sides.