New Flexible Working Measures to Benefit Millions

With the attainment of Royal Assent, the Flexible Working Bill grants millions of British workers increased freedom to choose their work location and hours.

Under this new law, workers will have the right to request flexible working from the commencement of a new job, and employers will be obligated to consider all such requests and provide a reason if they are rejected.

This achievement follows a series of successes for workers, including a record National Minimum Wage increase and improved employment protections for parents and unpaid carers.

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill has received Royal Assent, granting employees throughout the UK increased flexibility in choosing their work arrangements.

In line with a commitment made in the 2019 Manifesto to promote flexible working, the Act will mandate employers to consider and discuss any requests made by their employees. Each employee will have the right to make two requests for flexible working each year, and employers must respond within two months, reduced from the previous three-month period.

Flexible working encompasses various options, including part-time, term-time, flexi-time, compressed hours, and adjustments to start and finish times. It also extends to offering employees the option to work from home or a satellite office, reducing their commuting time.

These measures not only benefit workers but also contribute positively to British businesses. Research indicates that companies embracing flexible working can attract a broader pool of talent, enhance staff motivation, and reduce staff turnover, thereby increasing business productivity and competitiveness.

According to CIPD research, nearly 6 percent of employees changed jobs last year specifically due to the lack of flexible options, and 12 percent left their profession altogether due to the absence of flexibility within their sector. This translates to approximately 2 million and 4 million workers, respectively.

Business and Trade Minister Kevin Hollinrake said:

“A happier workforce means increased productivity, and that’s why we’re backing measures to give people across the UK even more flexibility over where and when they work.

“Not only does flexible working help individuals fit work alongside other commitments – whether it’s the school drop off, studying or caring for vulnerable friends and family – it’s good business sense too, helping firms to attract more talent, increase retention and improve workforce diversity.

“I want to thank Yasmin Qureshi MP, and all the campaigners who have helped make this Bill a reality and improved the lives of workers across the UK.”

Employers will be obligated to consult with the employee before rejecting their flexible working request.
Workers will have the permission to make two statutory requests for flexible working within any 12-month period, as opposed to the current allowance of only one request.
The waiting time for decisions to be made by employers regarding statutory requests will be reduced from three months to two months.
The existing requirements for employees to explain the potential impact of the requested change on the employer and how that effect might be managed will be removed.

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