The mass working from home brought about by the pandemic has shown that flexible working can be particularly valuable for those who need to balance their personal lives with their working lives, including those with caring responsibilities. It can also bring benefits to employers – attracting more applicants and increasing productivity and motivation levels among staff.
Recognising this, the UK government has launched a consultation which contains proposals to reform flexible working regulations. It also covers the wider work being undertaken by the government to encourage and support flexible working, and responds to relevant proposals from the July 2019 Good Work Plan: Proposals to support families consultation.
The plan would allow all UK employees to request a flexible working arrangement from their first day at a new employer.
At the moment, workers have to wait until they have been in their role for six months.
The proposals would also see bosses have to respond to requests for flexible working more quickly than the current maximum of three months. It would also force firms to explain why any requests were refused.
Commenting on the consultation, Jason Brennan, Director of Wellness and Leadership at employee wellness specialist Wrkit, said: “This is a very welcome decision, and update to a working pattern that has changed significantly and for many it will bring significant number of additional benefits. Our global survey into more than 4,000 remote employees shows that staff sleep better, often feel less stress and make more time for activities they enjoy with a better, more flexible work/life balance with remote working. Therefore, we would hope this legislation is the next step forward for flexible working and giving employees the choice to work where, and when, they are most content and productive.
“Benefit provision must now go one step further as people are increasingly seeking holistic support both in and out of the workplace. Employees want to feel that they are supported. Understood and listened to, so working environments that allow for openness and honesty about how people are feeling, and how they would like to work moving forwards, must be cultivated.
“In the remote working world we now live in, talented employees have a far wider geographical range of jobs available to them. Therefore, allowances for flexible working arrangements, staff feeling supported by management to seek out a working pattern which suits their own needs, and the provision of tailored wellbeing support and employee incentives are fundamental in retaining talent.”
You can read the full consultation description here.
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