Employees across the UK will be given even more flexibility over where and when they work, as the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill receives Royal Assent.
Delivering on a 2019 Manifesto commitment to encourage flexible working, the Act will require employers to consider and discuss any requests made by their employee – who will have the right to two requests per year – within two months of a request, down from three.
The concept of flexible working encompasses a range of working arrangements that provide workers with the option to adjust their work hours and patterns. It includes part-time, term-time, flexi-time, compressed hours and flexibility in start and finish times
Employees are also given the opportunity to work from home or a satellite office, which helps to reduce commuting time and improve work-life balance. The merits of flexible working extend beyond benefits to employees, as research reveals that it is advantageous for British businesses. Embracing flexible working can create a competitive edge for businesses by attracting more talented people, enhancing staff motivation, and reducing staff turnover. These benefits result in increased productivity and competitiveness for businesses.
CIPD research shows that 6 percent of employees changed jobs last year specifically due to a lack of flexible options and 12 percent left their profession altogether due to a lack of flexibility within the sector. This represents almost 2 and 4 million workers respectively.
Employees are expected to benefit from the following new protections once in force:
- New requirements for employers to consult with the employee before rejecting their flexible working request.
- Permission to make two statutory requests in any 12-month period (rather than the current one request).
- Reduced waiting times for decisions to be made(within which an employer administers the statutory request) from three months to two months.
- The removal of existing requirements 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.
Alongside the measures in the Bill, millions of Employees hope to be given the right to request flexible working from day one of a new job. This will bring an estimated 2.2 million more employees in scope of the entitlement following a change in regulations expected for 2024.
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