Earlier this week, the House of Lords gave its final assent to the Flexible Working Bill, which gives employees the right to request flexible working from their first day on the job.
Sammy Rubin, CEO and Founder of YuLife, a tech-driven employee benefits provider, believes that flexible working provides a win-win for employers and businesses alike.
Recent YuLife research found that 60% of UK employees think that flexible working conditions are an important factor when choosing an employer. With competition for candidates still very strong in most sectors, businesses looking to stand out in the race for top talent would do well to consider employee preferences.
Prioritising quality conversations
The new legislation, informally known as Day One Flex, is set to shake up HR practices across the jobs market. It’s as relevant to employers who want to ensure they are meeting diversity, equity and inclusion objectives as it is to those looking at supporting employee wellbeing.
Social enterprise Timewise has noticed that organisations are beginning to cite the new legislation as an incentive to action more flexible working – above and beyond hybrid and being “just compliant”.
Kevin Hollinrake MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business and Trade (Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business) shared his thoughts as part of Timewise’s recent “Day One Flex” webinar.
He noted that flexible working is a high priority for people who are thinking of returning to the workforce, and that with 8.7 million people of working age currently economically inactive, and business representatives desperate for skills and labour, increasing access to flexible working is a key focus of his department.
Employers do still have the right to refuse a Day One Flex request. But the legislation prioritises quality conversation and consideration and aims to make the process fairer and to support best practice.
Whilst many welcome the legislation, Timewise noted that particularly employers with frontline employees feel they will need more support to both implement the changes required by the Flexible Working Bill and access their potential benefits.
Amazon is an employers at the forefront of demonstrating that flexibility is possible for frontline colleagues. In May this year, the multinational retail and technology company introduced contracts that offer flexibility for those who have commitments preventing them from working full-time.
It’s term-time contracts give parents, grandparents and guardians of school-age children the option to work term-time only, guaranteeing time off for the summer, Easter and Christmas holiday periods.
Amazon already provides a four-day working week for it’s fulfilment centre employees in the UK,
Another forward-thinking employer is retailer Wickes. Having successfully adopted flexible working for office workers, Wickes has been working with Timewise to explore how to implement flexible working for store leadership teams and distribution centres.
Key learnings, are:
- Change mindsets for flexible working from traditional to modern.
- Define what flexible working really means for your organisation
- Listen, pilot and measure
- Create tools and toolkits for line managers
You can find out more about Timewise’s work with Wickes and Day One Flex here.
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