By Angela Strzyzewska, Senior Solicitor.
Currently, only employees with at least 26 weeks’ service are legally entitled to make a flexible working request to change when, where or the number of hours they work. Employees may only make one request per year and there are eight business reasons for which an employer can refuse a request.
However, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) launched a consultation on 23 September 2021 seeking views on whether the right should be extended to all employees, from commencement of employment. The consultation will run until 1 December 2021 and seeks comment on a number of measures the Government are proposing to implement. These include:
- Whether limiting requests to one per year should continue;
- Whether the current 3-month period an employer has to consider any request should be reduced;
- Whether before refusing a request, an employer should be obliged to consider alternatives to the pattern requested; and
- Whether all of the eight business reasons for which an employer can refuse a request are still appropriate, or whether some should no longer be considered valid reasons for refusal.
Whilst the implementation of these changes in law would only take place after the consultation concludes, the Conservatives had promised in their manifesto that they would make the right to request flexible working a day one right. Therefore, whether the other aspects of the consultation will be implemented is yet to be seen, but it seems very likely that this primary proposal will be implemented.
We will keep clients updated on this matter as it develops. Meantime, you can read the consultation document at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/making-flexible-working-the-default.
If you have any questions about flexible working, please do not hesitate to call us on 0141 331 5150.