Establishing a legal framework for flexible working

The adjustments organisations have made to ‘normal’ styles of working in recent months have unquestionably opened up a wider conversation about the flexibility and resilience of the workforce in the UK.  We this see daily through our UK employee engagement survey work, most notably through free text feedback.

Empower your people

Empowering colleagues to juggle work with non-work responsibilities has been a key feature of pandemic working, and it seems that in the age of the ‘Great Resignation’ many colleagues are now unwilling to accept employment terms which inhibit flexibility and a degree of human understanding. Extensive data across surveys confirm this – for example, a FlexJobs survey of more than 2,100 people who worked remotely during the pandemic found that 58% would leave their jobs if they weren’t able to continue working from home at least some of the time.

Moreover, with half of UK workers favouring the establishment of flexible working practices as a legal prerequisite and increasing political will for change, structural reform is looking increasingly likely.

Right to request flexible working

Under current legislation, employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements after 26 weeks in-post; these arrangements include working from home, flexitime, compressed hours and job shares, amongst other options. With the pandemic acting as a catalyst, there are now widespread calls for these flexible working rights to be available from day one in a position.

In response, The UK Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) launched a consultation in September 2021 to look at the expansion of flexible working rights. Closing in early December, the consultation demonstrates a real desire from the incumbent Conservative government to initiate policy change and fulfil its 2019 manifesto pledge to “encourage flexible working”.

Significant benefits of flexible working

Whilst the government’s consultation certainly warrants a step in the right direction, it is also the duty of employers to work in tandem with lawmakers to embrace and drive meaningful change in the coming months. Getting the recipe right at this time will have widespread benefits for businesses and employees alike, with flexible working estimated to add £37 billion to the UK economy through reductions in hiring and training costs, hikes in productivity and lower wage inflation.

Bringing forth an expanded legal framework which incorporates all forms of flexible working will guarantee these benefits and empower employers and employees to re-imagine the world of work. What is perhaps at risk is failing to instigate comprehensive and sustainable change at a time where notions of ‘normal work’ have been called into question like never before.

Business leaders who close the door to change risk missing a key opportunity to innovate and modernise, so it is crucial that legislative reforms are bold and not just a case of meagre manifesto tick-boxing.

Do you have a clear understanding of what your employees expectations are?  If not, consider doing so as soon as possible, we undertake specific hybrid/flexible working style surveys.  Drop us a call or email and we can discuss how we have helped countless organisations gain a deep insight and understanding of employee expectations of hybrid working. Also, if you have any queries regarding employee engagement surveys or staff surveys then we would love to hear from you.