Govt offers workers “right to ask nicely” for flexible working conditions

The government's proposals have been criticised for "tinkering around the edges".

24 Sep 2021| News

The government this week announced a new “right” to flexible working from day one on the job, but the TUC has warned that the new proposals amount to no more than a “right to ask nicely”.

In an announcement made yesterday (23 September 2021), the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said it is consulting over plans to scrap the qualifying period on a workers’ right to request flexible working conditions, which currently stands at 26 weeks’ continuous service.

It is also proposed that the three-month period employers are currently given to consider requests for flexible working arrangements could be reduced.

“Flexible working should be a day one right that’s available to everyone,” Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said.

“But under these plans, employers will still have free rein to turn down all or any requests for flexible working … The right to ask nicely is no right at all.”

According to research conducted by the TUC, three in ten requests for flexible working conditions are turned down by the employer, and flexitime is unavailable to most (58%) people, especially those in working-class jobs (64%).

“Instead of tinkering around the edges, ministers should change the law so that workers have the legal right to work flexibly from the first day in the job,” O’Grady continued.

“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.”