The government is currently consulting on its proposals to make flexible working the default, which could see a ‘day one’ right for new employees to request flexible working. The government has also published its response to its consultation on unpaid carer’s leave and has confirmed it will also introduce a ‘day one’ right to unpaid carer’s leave.
At the present time, employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment can make a request for flexible working.
It is likely that following on from the immediate response to Covid-19, schools may see an increase in requests for flexible working. The government consultation invites the flexible working taskforce to consider how we can use our experiences during lockdown to approach and shape a new way of working, to help maintain employee morale and productivity.
The consultation sets out five main areas for potential reform:
- Removing the requirement for continuous service as a pre-condition and making it a right to request flexible working from day one
- Whether the existing eight given business reasons for refusal of a flexible working request remain valid
- If the employer refuses a flexible working request, requiring them to suggest alternatives
- Finding the right balance in the administrative process underpinning the right to make a flexible working request
- The use of flexible, temporary arrangements as an alternative to formal requests
The reforms to current guidelines are not intended to create a right to work from home (where that is possible) for all employees, but rather the right to make a request for flexible working from day one.
The consultation closes on 1 December 2021 and can be found here.
Those balancing caring responsibilities with work may soon be able to seek carer’s leave. This would amount to five working days of unpaid leave per year irrespective of their length of service so long as they meet eligibility criteria. Carer’s leave will be flexible and will be able to be taken in either one block, or individual days.
Further details about the eligibility criteria in relation to this right can be found here.
It has not yet been confirmed when this right will be introduced; however, it is not expected to be before the new year.