Making flexible working the default

6 Oct 21 by Nina Robinson
Flexible Working

The Government has launched a consultation on reforms to the current flexible working regime, which closes on 1 December 2021. The consultation paper references the challenges resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact on how we live our lives, both at home and at work.

The proposals link to the Government’s 2019 manifesto commitment to encourage flexible working and to the ambition to “build back better” and indicates that a flexible labour market will allow for the opportunities and challenges of a post-pandemic economy.

The aim is to free employers and employees from the default 9-5 model and to focus on all forms of flexibility including when and where we work. It is hoped that more flexibility could assist with recruitment and retention of talent, reducing inequalities and enabling a high skilled, high productivity and high wage economy.

The consultation does not propose a right to flexible working but does aim to make flexibility the default.

The key proposals are:

  1. The right for employees to request flexible working from day one in a new job
  2. Considering the eight business reasons for refusing a flexible working request and whether they still remain valid
  3. Requiring employers to suggest alternatives where a request cannot be accommodated
  4. Allowing more than one request every 12-month period
  5. Reviewing the 3-month response time period currently mandated
  6. Allowing for the requests to apply to a temporary flexible working arrangement.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is seeking views from individuals and businesses on the proposals – anyone wishing to respond to the consultation can do so here:

Watch this space for further information once the consultation has closed and any legislative changes are made.


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Post by Nina Robinson

Director, ESP Law Ltd

Nina is an accomplished employment solicitor with over 15 years’ post-qualified experience at leading UK law firms. Nina initially qualified as a corporate solicitor at Addleshaw Goddard in 2005 and since 2006 practised employment law exclusively, providing advice to employer customers at both DAC Beachcroft and Ward Hadaway Solicitors. Nina has experience of advising a varied portfolio of employer customers, including retail and restaurant groups, financial services and media industry customers on all employment issues.