After the COVID-19 pandemic, it was clear that there was a need to ‘revamp’ the UK’s way of working. According to Finder, at the height of the pandemic around 60% of the UK’s adult population was working from home rather than being office based. After months of working from home, many employers have taken the plunge and implemented a hybrid working model to allow their employees to choose if they work in the office or from home.
There are many types of flexible working, and it does not always come down to where you work.
The below diagram summarises all the different types of flexible working:
What does flexible working mean?
Flexible working means making when you work, as well as where you work, work for you. It is freeing businesses and their employees from the default 9-to-5. This can also be used as a great tool to attract, recruit and retain employees. Envoy states that 47% of employees would be likely to look for another job if their employer didn’t offer flexible work opportunities.
In short, the new future of work is that it makes work, work for you.
Flexible working and the law
The Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) allows for all employees with at least 26 weeks continuous service the right to request to change their contractual terms and conditions of employment to work flexibly, including hours and location. Currently, employees can only make one statutory request in any 12-month period.
If the employer refuses their request, the refusal must be based on one or more of the eight business reasons:
- extra costs that will be a burden on the business
- the work cannot be reorganised among other staff
- people cannot be recruited to do the work
- flexible working will negatively affect quality
- flexible working will negatively affect performance
- the business’ ability to meet customer demand will be negatively affected
- there’s a lack of work to do during the proposed working times
- the business is planning structural changes
What impact will the new proposed legislation have?
The government has launched a consultation which is due to close on 1st December 2021, on the following:
- making flexible working a day one right
- whether the eight business reasons for refusing a request all remain valid
- requiring the employer to suggest alternative arrangements when refusing any request
- exploring whether employees should be allowed to make more than one statutory request per year
- whether employers should be required to consider requests quicker than 3 months’ response time
- if employers and employees are aware of the option to request a temporary arrangement