Making Flexible Working the Default

Chloe BeeversEmployment, Employment Law Blog, Site News, Site News, Site News

Consultations on ‘making flexible working the default’ and carer’s leave 

‘Making flexible working the default’ 

This consultation contains proposals to reform the flexible working regulations 2014, which extended the right to request a flexible working arrangement to all employees with 26 weeks continuous service.  This consultation seeks to go further, and give employees the right to flexible working from day one. 

The Government states there is potential to turn the current Right to Request into a “right to have”, removing the ability of an employer to turn down a request. 

This consultation sets out five proposals for reshaping the existing regulatory framework so that it better supports the objective of making flexible working the default. It considers:  

  • making the Right to Request Flexible Working a day one right; 
  • whether the eight business reasons for refusing a Request all remain valid; 
  • requiring the employer to suggest alternatives; 
  • the administrative process underpinning the Right to Request Flexible Working; and 
  • requesting a temporary arrangement.

The consultation document sets out a number of other steps to help make flexible working the default. These include:  

  • inviting the Flexible Working Taskforce to consider how to move on from the immediate response to Covid-19 and make the most of the lessons learnt (good and bad) over the last 18 months as more people start to return to the workplace and as employers respond with new approaches to working. 
  • the Government considering how to secure a genuinely flexible working friendly culture across and within organisations by launching a separate call for evidence in due course.

As part of a separate exercise, the Government will launch a call for evidence looking at the sorts of ‘extra’ flexibility people may need to help them live their lives in the best way they can – both at work and at home. The call for evidence will explore the need for ‘ad hoc’ and informal flexibility and how this can best be supported. 

The consultation closes on 1 December 2021. 

Carer’s leave 

The government has published its response to the consultation on carer’s leave and has confirmed its intention to introduce a new right to one week of unpaid leave per year for carers as a day one right for employees.  The carer’s leave entitlement can be taken flexibly, either in individual days or half days, up to a block of one week.  Legislation to introduce carer’s leave as a day one statutory employment right will be brought forward when parliamentary time allows. 

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