Excello Employment law specialist Hina Belitz has featured in a recent article from journalist James Hockaday at Yahoo News
The Flexible Working Bill has been praised by campaigners as a positive step for working people, giving them more control over their work arrangements. However, some employment lawyers have expressed reservations about the extent of its impact.
One of the shortcomings highlighted is that the Bill does not include an amendment proposed by Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, which would have allowed employees to request flexible working arrangements from their first day on the job. Instead, individuals will still have to work for a minimum of 26 weeks before making their first application.
Employment lawyers argue that the changes brought by the Bill are not groundbreaking, and it would have been more beneficial, especially for women with childcare responsibilities, to have the option to request flexibility from the outset of their employment.
Although the new legislation allows employees to make two flexible working requests within a 12-month period, and employers must give a decision within two months (down from three), experts believe that the existing statutory process already required employers to consider such requests and that this aspect won’t significantly change.
Hina Belitz, an employment law specialist at Excello Law, emphasises that the Bill only provides a right to request flexible working, not a guarantee of receiving it. She raises concerns about potential clever ways employers might use to refuse these requests or increase discrimination and related claims.
The Bill also requires managers to consult with the employer before rejecting a request, but there are differing interpretations of what this consultation entails.
Overall, while the Flexible Working Bill has positive aspects, experts believe it falls short of being the comprehensive and groundbreaking reform that some may have hoped for.