The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BIES) has set out its proposals to allow employees the right to request flexible working from the first day of employment. The measures will only apply to employers in Great Britain.

Employers will be expected to give careful consideration to any requests for flexible working and if unable to accommodate a request, then alternative options should be explored, before arriving at a decision. The proposal makes clear that if a request cannot be accommodated then employers will still have the right to decline these.

These measures will form part of a series of wider proposals originally recommended by Matthew Taylor under the Good Work Plan. The right to request flexible working for all is an extension to these earlier proposals seeking to bring a better work life balance for employees.

Within the recent government consultation, a wider range of flexible working practices were recommended also, such as flexitime working, job sharing roles and the right to work staggered or compressed hours and other suggestions.

Under existing flexible working rights, employees can only be request leave after 26- weeks service and this is limited to one request each year. Employers have 3 months in which to arrive at a decision.

In addition to the day one right to request leave the consultation sets out measures to remove the restriction limiting requests from employees to just one a year and reducing the 3-month period that employers have to make the decision.

The new proposals will be a welcome change for many employees, but employers will need to review jobs to determine whether these can be offered on a flexible basis and will be expected to include this information in any potential job advertisements.

In addition to flexible working rights, government will also introduce a day one right to one-week’s unpaid leave for carers balancing a job with caring responsibilities.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

"Empowering workers to have more say over where and when they work makes for more productive businesses and happier employees. It was once considered a ‘nice to have’, but by making requests a day one right, we’re making flexible working part of the DNA of businesses across the country. A more engaged and productive workforce, a higher calibre of applicants and better retention rates – the business case for flexible working is compelling."

The full consultation can be found on the following link here

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