Kavitha’s keynote: Flexible working requests back under the microscope

The government published its consultation on making flexible working requests an employee right from their first day of employment on Wednesday (22 September), bringing the issue back under the microscope.

While some representative bodies, such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, have welcomed the move, others have said that it doesn’t go far enough. The Trades Union Congress, for example, has accused the government of just “tinkering around the edges” by only making the right to request flexible working a day-one right, rather than flexible working itself, and thereby still giving employers the chance to turn down such requests.

Many employees – and indeed even some employers – are under the misconception that ‘flexible working’ is simply working from home, but as HR professionals know the reality is that it covers arrangements including part-time work, compressed hours, flexi-time and job shares.

Since the pandemic began, however, awareness of what this involves has slowly grown, with even organisations that favoured traditional working patterns adapting to embrace hybrid working and models that allow employees to manage their work-life balance.

This week, we reported that energy business Love Energy Savings had introduced a ‘Flexible-Flexible’ policy which enabled its workforce to set their own working hours. This followed on from a policy it previously launched to allow staff to work from any UK location.

The organisation’s CEO, Phil Foster, revealed that employees had already benefited from an improved quality of life, adding that the nine-to-five, Monday to Friday, working pattern is “no longer fit for purpose”.

Whether or not you agree the government has gone far enough with its proposal, it is clearly making steps towards encouraging employers to embrace flexible working. Those that choose to offer positions that can fit around people’s personal and family commitments are able to tap into a wider talent pool.


Kavitha Sivasubramaniam
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