The UK government have opened a consultation on the Right to Request flexible working. You have until 1st December to make your opinion known.
Current Flexible Working Rules
The UK government is proposing changes to workers’ rights that could see a dramatic cultural shift sweep through workplaces across England, Scotland and Wales. These proposals aim to make flexible working the default for employees.
Currently, the Right to Request is only available to employees who have worked for your business for at least 26 weeks and only one request can be made per year.
Employers have 3 months to respond to requests and 8 acceptable reasons for denying requests.
Plans for the Future
Expanding the Right to Request flexible working has been on the government agenda for several years. However, this consultation was prompted by work pattern changes caused by Covid-19.
Flexible working encompasses a wide range of approaches, including:
- Working from home
- Compressed hours
- Staggered hours
The government’s intention is not simply to make flexible working more accessible. Rather, the goal is to promote a cultural shift towards making flexibility the default.
There are many benefits to flexible work: more motivated and productive employees, increased revenue and access to a more diverse talent pool. These benefits can greatly boost a business.
Although flexibility generally ‘leads to improved financial returns for businesses,’ there are costs that complicate its introduction.
Costs of the Right to Request Flexible Working
In 2014, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills found that around a third of employers believed the costs of flexible working outweighed the benefits. This may be due to the administrative burden.
For example, the cost of training two employees in a job-share may be higher than training a single full-time employee. Similarly, calculating holiday entitlement, sick pay and managing auto-enrolment on pensions can be more cumbersome.
There are also payroll complications to consider. When all employees work a standardised shift pattern, errors in payroll can be found and rectified easily. With flexible working, errors may be more likely to go unnoticed.
Despite these costs, the government encourages ‘constructive, open-minded discussion between employer and employee.’ Such discussion can lead to an implementation that benefits both employees and employers.
Don’t miss out on your chance to shape the future of the Right to Request. Respond to the consultation here.
The government state that they considered (and dropped) the idea of making flexible working a fully automatic right. This raises the question, if the changes go ahead successfully, could the Right to Request become a Right to Have?
The adoption of working from home can bring many benefits. However, unprepared businesses may find themselves out of their depth with payroll and admin issues. These issues can be overcome with the help of an accountant.
Kind regards Ilyas