The UK Government has announced today that millions of workers will be able to request flexible working from day one of employment.
After calling on the UK Government to make flexible working a day one right to request since February 2021 through its #Flexfrom1st campaign, the CIPD is delighted to see this policy change become a reality.
At present, employees must wait until they’ve been in a job for six months (26 weeks) before they can make a flexible working request. The news today will allow millions of people to enjoy the benefits of flexible working from the start of their employment.
The UK Government has committed to:
- Removing the 26-week qualifying period before employees can request flexible working, making it a day-one right.
- Requirement of employers to consult with their employees, as a means of exploring the available options, before rejecting a flexible working request.
- Allowing employees to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period.
- Requirement of employers to respond to requests within two months, down from three.
- Removing the requirement for employees to set out how the effects of their flexible working request might be dealt with by their employer.
Flex from 1st
Our #Flexfrom1st campaign stemmed from research revealing that flexible working practices were not fair, with nearly half (46%) of British employees saying they didn’t have access to flexible working arrangements as part of their current role. The pandemic saw huge increases in home working, however the CIPD campaigned to highlight the range of different flexible working forms available to people. Flexibility in hours worked and schedules are important, particularly for roles that don’t allow for remote working. Job shares, flexitime and compressed working hours are just some of the other examples that can bring employees more satisfied working lives.
Many organisations in Britain already allow employees to make flexible working requests from the start of their employment but this change in policy will ensure that this good practice is adopted across the economy.
Evidence suggests that those who have greater flexibility report higher levels of job satisfaction, wellbeing and performance in their roles. The provision of more flexible jobs and workplaces will also help organisations attract and retain a more diverse workforce, boosting their ability to address skill and labour shortages.
The changes announced today, once enacted, will apply to employees in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), as employment law is devolved in Northern Ireland.
UK Government consultation
In September, the CIPD responded to the UK Government’s flexible working consultation. To help inform the response, evidence was cited from seven member focus groups across the UK along with data from a YouGov survey of over 1,000 senior HR and organisation decision makers. The data found that 57% were in favour of the day-one right to request and overall the CIPD responded positively to the consultation, providing key recommendations to help create fairer more inclusive flexible working practices.
Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said:
"We’re delighted the Government is bringing in a day-one right to request flexible working. We’ve been calling for this change as it will help create fairer, more inclusive workplaces and improve access to flexible jobs for many people. Older workers, those with caring responsibilities and people with health conditions are among those who will particularly benefit."
"This new right will help normalise conversations about flexibility at the start of the employment relationship, with significant benefits for employees in terms of wellbeing and work-life balance. Just as importantly, it will also enable organisations to attract and retain a more diverse workforce and help boost their productivity and agility."
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At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.