The introduction of a day-one right to request flexible working will be no “more than words on a page” without effective enforcement, according to the chair of a committee of MPs examining the UK labour market.
"New employees often need to spend time in the office to meet colleagues, get training and be set up with equipment. A day one right to flexible working could be very disruptive and may not be practical for many roles. There is quite a lot of flexibility for employers to reject flexible working requests, and I suspect that employers will find it easy to justify a lack of flexibility during an employee’s probationary period. Accordingly, I don’t think this change will make a dramatic difference."
"Employees may also be reluctant to make too many demands during their probationary periods anyway. While it would be automatically unfair to dismiss an employee for requesting flexible working, employees will still fear repercussions from challenging management decisions so early in their careers."
"Something that may have more of an effect is a new duty to discuss alternatives to the flexible working requests. This is also being considered by the Government. Forcing employers to consider compromise (as opposed to accepting or rejecting requests) could have a real impact, but only time will tell how effective this measure is (and how strongly it will be enforced)."
Susan's comments were published in Personnel Today, 6 December 2022, and can be found here.