What are your thoughts on reforms to Flexible Working? I’m interested to hear your opinions…
You may have read recently in the press, the recent consultation which contains proposals to reform flexible working regulations (The Flexible Working Regulations 2014).
The publication also covers the wider work being undertaken by the government to encourage and support flexible working, it also responds to relevant proposals from the Good Work Plan: Proposals to support families consultation which launched in July 2019.
What is the current legislation surrounding Flexible Working?
Since way back in 2003 which is when the legislation came into force providing parents (and certain other carers) with the right to request a flexible working arrangement, this could cover working hours/patterns and also work location. It was then updated in 2014, with the provision of the right to request a flexible working arrangement being extended to all employees with 26 weeks continuous service.
In order to request flexible working the individual has to show how it can work for the business, as a business owner you can reasonably refuse the request.
What is due to change in legislation?
So, what is on the cards to change? In a nutshell, the change will mean that flexible working will become more accessible to more individuals, the proposals will mean that flexible working include a day one right for the individuals to make a request, it also includes a review of the current reasonable denials of the request, in addition, Employers are also encouraged to consider alternatives if a flexible working request cannot be accommodated.
Are there any Risks if I can’t or Don’t Offer Flexible Working as an Employer?
There have been recent cases in Employment Tribunals (ET) that highlighted specific risks of indirect sex discrimination relating to flexible working requests. It is widely recognised by ET’s that women predominantly take on the childcare responsibilities more than the men in relationships, this can lead to women being disadvantaged by inflexible working practices and place them at risk of discrimination.
I refer here to our recent latest news in which we highlighted the Thompson vs Scancrown Ltd T/A Manors, case, interestingly in just one of the claims brought to the tribunal was that she experienced ‘Indirect Sex Discrimination’ The tribunal did award to Mrs. Thompson, and this is related to flexible working request. She provided evidence she was unfairly burdened with childcare, providing a survey by Direct Line Insurance, saying that mothers take the burden of 64% of childcare labour, taken in 2018. Given the survey’s methodology seemed sound, and it was relatively recent, the tribunal was happy to accept it as evidence that, compared to the male employees at Manors, the refusal of flexible working was an undue burden on the women and specifically mothers.
In view of recent successful wins at Employment Tribunals, it will continue to be an interesting time for Employers, especially ones that don’t’ openly embrace flexible working currently, or in the future. There will undoubtedly be a demand for flexibility, we know only too well this has increased since the pandemic and there can be benefits for both Employer and Employee when executed in the right way.
What do you think?
Feel free to join the conversation with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and tell us your thoughts. Or join our newsletter, to keep informed of all the updates from the HR and You team.
Here to Help
HR and You’s handbooks and policies are fully in line with current legislation in regard to direct and indirect discrimination – and should you find yourself dealing with a flexible working request, we would be more than happy to help advise and guide you towards the ideal solution for you, your Employee, and your Business.
We are here to provide full advice, support, and guidance. We can advise in any HR or Employment Law matter: you can contact a member of our team on 0333 006 9489 or [email protected]
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