From today all employees who’ve been in their jobs for more than half a year have the right to ask their employers if they can work flexibly.
The new legislation has been welcomed by flexible work campaigners, but Gillian Nissim, Founder of Workingmums.co.uk, the UK’s number one jobs and community site for working mums, says employers may miss out on the business benefits of flexible working if they not use the extension of the right to request flexible working as an opportunity to rethink their work culture.
She said: “While we welcome the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees – and the best employers already do this – we are concerned that many employers may not have used this opportunity to look holistically at their organisations and how they could benefit from a more flexible culture, rather than just considering individual requests as they come up. Surveys show many employers are unaware of the changes and their implications. Workingmums.co.
The Federation of Small Businesses said the new legislation would cause more red tape for small employers, but theTUC welcomed the news. It added that it was concerned that it is still too easy for employers to say no to any requests they receive.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s not just parents and carers who can benefit from flexible working. This sensible and modern approach to work is something that can improve the lives of everyone.
“Now, thanks to this long overdue change in the law, employees of all ages will be able to ask their boss to alter the way they work, regardless of whether they have dependents or caring responsibilities.
“If they have an employer who gets why flexible working makes sense, workers who want to take time out to train, volunteer in a local community project, or simply avoid travelling at rush hour will now be able to transform their lives.
“But those with old-fashioned bosses who expect all staff to stick to the same rigid hours day in day out and always be in the office won’t be so lucky. Employers will still find it all too easy to block any requests for greater flexibility.
“Unfortunately the right to request is only the right to ask nicely. There is nothing to stop employers saying no. Of course, not everyone in every company or organisation is able to work flexibly – some requests will always need to be turned down. But without the right to challenge employers, many workers will continue to lose out.”