Since 2018 we’ve been part of the UK government’s Flexible Working Taskforce. Alongside business lobby organisations, professional bodies, unions and key charities we’ve consulted, challenged and equipped employers to improve workplace equality by promoting flexible working opportunities to all employees.
We backed the new Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act, which passed into law in July 2023 and will come into effect in 2024. Alongside the measures in the Bill, through secondary legislation, millions of workers will be given the right to request flexible working from day one of a new job. Here’s what this means for employees, their organisations and our profession.
Greater equality though flexible working
Instead of after 26 weeks
Instead of once only
Down from three months
Set up in 2018 in response to Theresa May’s challenge to improve workplace equality, the then Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) – now known as the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) – asked the Flexible Working Taskforce to clarify the benefits of flexible working, investigate the barriers, gather evidence of ways to increase provision, and create recommendations and action plans.
In February 2021, our chief executive Peter Cheese was asked to continue his role as taskforce chair. Its remit broadened to use learning from the pandemic to support changes to new ways of working.
Taskforce members included the CBI, Federation of Small Businesses, British Chambers of Commerce, Institute of Directors, Chartered Management Institute, Acas, TUC, MAKE UK, Equalities and Human Rights Commission, Recruitment & Employment Confederation, Working Families, Timewise, SCOPE, Age UK, Carers UK, and government departments BEIS, DWP, HMT, DHSC and the Government Equalities Office.
As well as clear benefits for employees, the taskforce demonstrated the strong business case for flexible working, showing how organisations can gain from more diverse working environments, higher productivity and greater staff retention. We surveyed over 1,000 senior HR decision-makers and found 57% were in favour of a day-one right to request flexible working. And, along with other taskforce members, we generated guidance and resources to help employers understand what flexible working means and how they can make it happen.
How we’re helping you make it happen
The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill has achieved Royal Assent and will come into effect in 2024. Alongside the measures in the Bill, millions of workers will be given the right to request flexible working from day one of a new job. And we’ve already created guidance and resources to help organisations embed the benefits of flexible working.
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