After the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill was given Royal Assent yesterday and became law, unions, rights groups, and women’s organisations have come together to call on the government to go further and deliver on its manifesto commitments to unlock flexible working.
The legislation will strengthen employee rights to flexible working, while the government has also committed to bring in a day one right to request flexible working for employees.
But the TUC and other campaigners say this does not go far enough. A right to request is not a legal right to work flexibly from day one in the job and means many flexible working requests can and will be rejected by employers.
Joint statement with unions and campaigners
In a joint statement published today, signatories including the TUC, Fawcett Society, Women’s Budget Group and Timewise, among others, warn the legislation does not go far enough:
‘’Whilst this is an important step, the government must go further.’
‘’Mums, dads, disabled people (including those with Long Covid), carers and older workers are just some of the groups that we know are more likely to need flexibility to get into work, stay and progress. And flexible working is important for everyone to achieve better work life balance and make time for life outside work.’’
“But even with the new legislation, those who need flexibility to work will be forced to ask what arrangements are available in the recruitment process. We know many applicants don’t mention flexible working due to justified fears of discrimination or rejection.’’
TUC General Secretary, Paul Nowak said:
“Flexible working should be a day one right that’s available to everyone.
“But under these new plans, it does not go far enough.
“The government must deliver on their manifesto commitments and change the law so workers have the legal right to work flexibly from the first day in the job.
“Not all jobs can support every kind of flexible working – but all jobs can support some kind of flexible working. And all job adverts should make clear what kind of flexibility is available.”
Government action needed
The union body is calling for the government to:
Notes to editors:
The Employment Relations Bill (Flexible Working) Bill yesterday reached royal assent. More than twenty organisations have come together to welcome the Act and call for further action.
After years of campaigning for stronger rights to flexible working, we welcome today’s announcement that the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill has reached royal assent and thank Yasmin Qureshi MP and Baroness Taylor of Bolton for sponsoring the legislation.
Most importantly we want to thank the thousands of people who fought tirelessly to raise awareness of the importance of flexible working for everyone. Your actions got us here.
The Act will strengthen the rights that employees have when requesting flexible working and the government have committed to introducing a day one right to request flexible working for all employees alongside the Act.
Whilst this is an important step, the government must go further to create inclusive and flexible work for everyone.
Mums, dads, disabled people (including those with Long Covid), carers and older workers are just some of the groups that we know are more likely to need flexibility to get into work, stay and progress. And flexible working is important for everyone to achieve better work life balance and make time for life outside work.
But even with the new legislation, those who need flexibility to work will be forced to ask what arrangements are available in the recruitment process. We know many applicants don’t mention flexible working due to justified fears of discrimination or rejection – new TUC polling shows that half of new dads and partners entitled to paternity leave didn’t get any or all of the flexibility they requested from their employer. A day one right to request flexible working will not fix this and does not require employers to think about how to design flexibility into their roles.
To truly meet their manifesto commitment to make flexible working the default, the government must require employers to include all possible flexible working options in job adverts. This is a small, simple change that would make a huge difference to working people and mean they know before they apply if a job works for them and underlines an employer's commitment to make flexible working work for everyone.
Six in ten HR managers polled by the TUC said it would be easy to include specific information about the flexibility in location or hours available in each role in each job advert, or they already do this. Making this good-practice mandatory would make a day one right to flexible working a reality for many.
Unlocking flexibility for all would help to tackle labour shortages, retain people who need flexibility to work, reduce inequalities and improve progression opportunities. Making flexibility the default from day one would be good for working people, good for employers and good for the economy.
TUC press office
020 7467 1248
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