The flexible working bill was introduced into parliament at the end of 2022 following a campaign from CIPD, meaning that employees will be able to request flexible working from day 1 of their employment. This bill will be introduced in line with the government’s plans to make flexible working a priority.
The measures that are being committed to will:
- remove the 26-week qualifying period before employees can request flexible working, making it a day-one right
- require employers to consult with their employees, as a means of exploring the available options, before rejecting a flexible working request
- allow employees to make 2 flexible working requests in any 12-month period
- require employers to respond to requests within 2 months, down from 3
- remove the requirement for employees to set out how the effects of their flexible working request might be dealt with by their employer
The intention of the bill is to give employees far more flexibility over things like how they work, where and when.
As an employer you need to arrange a consultation with all employees who make a flexible working request before any rejection can be made (something that’s already in place). If you’re recruiting, with the new bill, this means it’ll need to be included in your recruitment process too.
The introduction of these changes are really championing the opening up of the conversation around flexible working and how that can be incorporated into ALL employee’s work. Most of the recruitment surveys show that employees are seeking alternative work in order to find more flexibility in their life.
Following the pandemic, we have seen many industries turn to a remote or hybrid working pattern and with this many assume a more flexible approach, not always the case though. Working from home is not the only flexible option employees are looking for, in fact there are many for whom this option either doesn’t work, can’t be accommodated and or isn’t favourable.
Thinking specifically about your business, your employees and how flexibility can work is what will make this a success for you. You see, it could be working patterns, working days, it could be introducing flexitime and letting employees choose how they complete their time. Looking at the tools they have to complete their work, it’s a multi-functional approach that works for you and the business.
I’ve seen so many businesses just run with something that has worked for others perhaps in their industry, or seen many successfully talking about it on LinkedIn, at conferences etc. What these don’t say are the demographic of the employees, the cost of setting it up or how long it took to be successful.
There really is no one size fits all. By investing time in researching different options for your business, speaking to employees and doing that prep work, you stand a much better chance of implementing something that will not only be successful, but is much more likely to reflect you and your culture and values of the business – meaning that people will engage better with it.