Millions of UK workers will have more flexibility over when and where they work as the Flexible Working Bill is granted Royal Assent.
The aim of the Act — expected to come into force next summer — is to enhance recruitment, retention and diversity in the workforce. The Equality and Human Rights Commission believes it'll also help promote inclusivity and productivity.
Flexible working encompasses various aspects like hours, patterns (part-time, flexi-time, etc) and locations (e.g home or satellite offices).
It is anticipated the changes will lead to increased employment opportunities, especially for caregivers, a narrowing in the gender pay gap, and greater inclusion of disabled workers, boosting job satisfaction and diversity.
While the Act is unlikely to have a big impact on how employers handle flexible work requests, proactive policy adjustments can help them embrace the new rules.
Businesses should also see a benefit, with flexible policies helping to attract more talent, boost motivation and retain staff, ultimately raising productivity and competitiveness.
Key changes under the Act
Employees can make two statutory requests annually (up from one)
Employees need not detail the employer impact or its resolution
Employers must decide within two months
Employers must consult before rejecting requests
New employees can request flexible work from day one, via separate Regulations
Acas is updating its Code of Practice on flexible work, extending those accompanying employees in meetings and requiring clearer rejection justifications with appeal options
What employers need to do
Revise policies, considering Acas guidelines
Establish clear guidelines for flexible work processes
Invest in tech for remote collaboration
Train managers in evaluating requests and managing diverse schedules
Foster open communication with employees
Anticipate the impact of the changes
Research by CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) shows that 6 percent of employees switched jobs due to limited flexibility, and 12 percent left their careers because of sector-specific rigidity. This equates to almost 2 and 4 million workers respectively.