UK to allow staff to request flexible working

A man working on computer. PHOTO | Unsplash 

Summary

  • Surveys show that many people view flexible working patterns as important or even a non-negotiable requirement when applying for a job

London. UK workers will be able to request flexible employment from the first day of a job under government plans announced Monday.

It comes after millions of mainly office workers continue to work from home, at least part of the week, in the wake of the Covid pandemic.

"Millions of employees will be able to request flexible working from day one of their employment, under new government plans to make flexible working the default," a statement said.

"Flexible working doesn't just mean a combination of working from home and in the office -- it can mean employees making use of job-sharing, flexitime, and working compressed, annualised, or staggered hours."

The Conservative government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak added that a "raft of new measures will give employees greater access to flexibility over where, when, and how they work, leading to happier, more productive staff.

"Flexible working has been found to help employees balance their work and home life, especially supporting those who have commitments or responsibilities such as caring for children or vulnerable people," the statement added.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady, while welcoming the news, said the change "should give workers the legal right to work flexibly from their first day in a job -- not just the right to ask."

Greater flexibility could meanwhile help women to earn higher salaries.

Data on Monday revealed that the gender pay gap remains at its widest for Britain's oldest workers.

"Caring responsibilities, the burden of which still falls disproportionately on women, means women can miss out on salary progression during their careers -- which compounds as time goes on, widening the gender pay gap as we age," said Stuart Lewis, chief executive of Rest Less, an organisation that advises people aged over 50.

According to Rest Less, men earn 31 percent more on average than women when both are in their fifties.