There has been talk about changes to the flexible working rules for some time and now the Government has published its response to the consultation on updating flexible working laws.
It is looking like employees will have the right to request flexible working from day one, rather than having to wait until they have been continuously employed for 26 weeks. This is good news for employees, particularly since Covid and the fact that many people’s working habits have changed as they’ve become used to hybrid working. If an employee is thinking of changing jobs, but is reluctant to do so due to the current flexibility they enjoy, this new right might give them the impetus to move.
However, the right is only a right to request, not a right to have the flexibility they request, so it still may be refused for one of the current eight reasons the employer can rely on.
Further proposed changes are that employees will be allowed to make two requests in a 12 month period rather than one, and employers must respond within two months rather than three.
A new duty to discuss alternatives to the request may also be introduced.
The whole procedure may be simplified but we are waiting to see the details on this.
Whether the changes will increase the number of requests for flexible working remains to be seen. Even if it does, the fact that there will be no change to the list of eight reasons the employer has to refuse a request may result in no increase in the number of flexible working requests being granted.
Watch this space!