The Workers Union is backing the government’s plans for flexible working.
The news comes as the Department for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy announced that employees will be able to make one request for flexible working per annum.
In a change to the current rules, the request will not be subject to a minimum qualification period – workers will have the right to ask for flexible working from the first day in post. The regulations presently state that staff must have been in their jobs for 26 weeks before they have a right to request changes to their working arrangements.
The business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that: ‘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.’
The government is running a consultation on the proposals that will also consider whether to reduce the 3-month period that employers have to decide whether to grant flexible working requests or not. If the changes are approved, it will mark a significant reform to the existing flexible working regulations that have been in place since 2014.
The Workers Union on Flexible Working
With the fallout from the pandemic ongoing, it seems eminently sensible that the government has taken another step on the road towards emancipating workers from old fashioned relationships with their employers. COVID wasn’t what anybody was expecting back in 2019, but it’s happened, and many people have found that home-working has had a positive effect on family relationships.
In truth, it shouldn’t have taken a virus to make better work/life balance a reality for working people. The future of employment was always going to be about leveraging technology to work in distributed teams, rather than crowding into strip-lit offices 5-days a week. But the time for recriminations is over and we must grab this opportunity to fashion the working lives of tomorrow in such a way that adaptability comes as standard.
That is not to say that the government’s proposals represent the final leg of the journey. They will only guarantee a right to request flexible working – there is no certainty that employers will say yes.
We believe that employees should have the right to work flexibly from the first day of employment. What this proposal does is start the conversation, but much more remains to be done before our working lives finally reflect the realities of 21st century living.
The Workers Union – fighting for social justice, fighting for you