Home / Companies / People /  Employees in UK can soon ask for flexible working from Day 1 of employment

Employees in UK will soon be able to request flexible employment from the first day of a job, under a new government plan announced today. The Rishi Sunak government’s intends to introduce changes to the right to request flexible working legislation. “Millions of employees will be able to request flexible working from day one of their employment, under new government plans to make flexible working the default," the UK government said in a statement.  

Flexible working doesn’t just mean a combination of working from home and in the office, it can mean employees making use of job-sharing, flexitime, and working compressed, annualised, or staggered hours, the UK government said. 

If an employer cannot accommodate a request to work flexibly, they will be required to discuss alternative options before they can reject the request, according to the new plan. For example, if it is not possible to change an employee’s working hours on all days, they could consider making the change for certain days instead.

“We’re delighted the Government is bringing in a day-one right to request flexible working. We’ve been calling for this change as it will help create fairer, more inclusive workplaces and improve access to flexible jobs for many people. Older workers, those with caring responsibilities and people with health conditions are among those who will particularly benefit," said Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development. 

“This new right will help normalise conversations about flexibility at the start of the employment relationship, with significant benefits for employees in terms of wellbeing and work-life balance. Just as importantly, it will also enable organisations to attract and retain a more diverse workforce and help boost their productivity and agility."

Today’s announcement comes alongside new laws coming into effect that will allow Britain’s lowest paid workers to work more flexibly and boost their income through extra work.

According to the UK government, workers on contracts with a guaranteed weekly income on or below the Lower Earnings Limit of 123 pounds a week will now be protected from exclusivity clauses being enforced against them, which restricted them from working for multiple employers.

These reforms, the government said, will ensure around 1.5 million low paid workers can make the most of the opportunities available to them such as working multiple short-term contracts. This will particularly benefit those who need more flexibility over where and when they work, for example students or people with caring responsibilities, the government said. 

"Flexible working has been found to help employees balance their work and home life, especially supporting those who have commitments or responsibilities such as caring for children or vulnerable people," the statement added.

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