On 5 December 2022, following its Making Flexible Working The Default consultation, which has now concluded, the UK government announced that it will be introducing reforms to the law around employees’ rights to make flexible working requests.
These changes will be introduced via primary and secondary legislation, including the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill which is currently working its way through Parliament. The devil, as always, will be in the detail however the government has committed in full to the following specific reforms:
These changes will no doubt be welcomed by many employees, particular those with childcare or other caring obligations or those with disabilities which affect their ability to work typical full-time hours. These changes make bringing a flexible working request easier and place additional obligations on employers to respond in a timely manner and consult meaningfully before reaching a decision.
Equally however, there have been no changes to the broad remit employers have to refuse such requests. Such refusal can be based on eight factors, which are:
As such, while these reforms may increase the number of flexible working requests that are brought, they may have a limited impact on the success rate of flexible working requests.
Legislative changes to the employment law landscape tend not to happen too often in the UK, but like buses, this week a few seem to have arrived at once with the publication of the UK Government’s policy paper “Smarter regulation to grow the economy”, which sets out various proposals for changes to existing legislation and the introduction of new legislation.
Most employers are keen to avoid dismissing staff in whom they have invested time and money but this is not always possible.
Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), sometimes referred to as “gagging clauses”, are rarely out of the news.
I was interested to read the recent reports in the Guardian and BBC News that Elon Musk has sent an email which requires all staff to sign a commitment to working “long hours at high intensity” and being “extremely hardcore”. They report that the alternative is that they will receive three months’ severance pay.