UK employees will have the right to ask for part-time or flexible hours from day one on the job.
As part of a set of new measures announced today (December 5). Minister for Small Business, Kevin Hollinrake, said: “Giving staff more say over their working pattern makes for happier employees and more productive businesses. Put simply, it’s a no-brainer. Greater flexibility over where, when, and how people work is an integral part of our plan.”
The move will allow employees to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period rather than the current once in any 12-month period. The deadline for employers to respond will also be shortened to two months (down from three) and employers will be required to explore all of their options before rejecting a request.
Frances O’ Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said that the move was “a step in the right direction” but that workers need “the legal right to flexible work from their first day on the job – not just the right to ask.”
A survey by flexible working consultancy, Timewise, found that only three posts in ten were advertised as flexible, including arrangements such as job-sharing or adjusted hours according to employee needs, as well as part-time or remote work. The proportion of posts advertised is bigger than in the past, but this is largely down to hybrid working in sectors like marketing and finance during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Only 12 per cent of jobs advertised were open to part-time work which is the most in-demand type of flexible working. What’s more, the proportion is much smaller in high-paid roles. Timewise said this excludes many single parents from the market or keeps them “trapped in jobs below their skill level.”
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Sridhar Iyengar, MD for Zoho Europe, commented on the announcement: “This welcome decision from the government will cement flexible work as a long-term solution for the UK business economy, and gives even more power and autonomy to hard-working individuals over the country.
“Moving forward, businesses should take the time to consider the level of flexibility that will be granted to their staffers and equip themselves with the correct tools and infrastructure to facilitate it. This means introducing data-secure collaboration platforms and cloud environments for efficient working from all locations.”