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Kerry Eastman

HR Advisor - Uckfield

10th August 2021

Flexible Working Bill: What is it?

Flexible Working Bill: What is it?

On 30 June 2021, Labour MP Tulip Siddiq proposed a new Bill to parliament that would give employees the right to request flexible working from day one of employment.

At present, employees have the right to request flexible working after completing 26 weeks’ continuous service, but not before.

At the end of last month, Ms Siddiq, addressing the House of Commons, pointed out that childcare responsibilities largely fall to women and highlighted the fact that statistics demonstrate the extent to which, if women can work flexibly, they’re less likely to leave employment post-maternity leave. In turn, she submitted that the right to flexible working should become a day one right and emphasised the benefits this would present, particularly where workplace equality is concerned.

When should we expect any changes?

While consultation is yet to commence, the Bill is scheduled to be read for a second time on Friday, 19 November 2021. We do not therefore expect any imminent changes to legislation, but will endeavour to update you as and when the Government provide updates.

What would this mean in practice?

As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, its likely flexible working will be high on the agenda, both for existing employees and in the context of recruitment.

Employers should therefore ensure they have a policy in place which outlines how existing employees can request flexible working and how they will handle any such application. If Ms Siddiq’s proposed Bill is successful, such a policy will, of course, need to be amended but it’s still advised to have a policy in place prior to the conclusion of that consultation. In addition, employers need to ensure that when handling flexible working requests they are mindful of the equality issues as highlighted by Ms Siddiq.

Further, employers should outline, in all job advertisements, what flexibility options are available to potential applicants/candidates. This doesn’t just apply to home/remote-working, but also to part/full time working, flexible/compressed hours and job sharing.

Do you need assistance with handling flexible working requests? Say no more, the GatekeeperHR team is here to help. GatekeeperHR is a fixed cost, employment law and HR retainer service which provides businesses with access to a dedicated team of experienced lawyers and HR professionals who you can speak to, or meet face-to-face, at any time. The service includes a full HR compliance audit, access to an online portal full of valuable employment law and HR resources and an annual training session on topics of your choosing. To find out more about GatekeeperHR, please contact Amy White, Solicitor and Partner, in Rix & Kay’s Employment Team.

Alternatively, you can browse the GatekeeperHR website, sign up for a free trial or download our brochure by visiting www.gatekeeperhr.co.uk.

 

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