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Plans to give employees the right to request flexible working from the first day of their job have been confirmed by the government, although no date has been set for its introduction.
In the aftermath of employees working from home during Covid, the Flexible Working Bill aims to give employees greater access to flexibility over where, when and how they work in the future.
Following a consultation last year, the government said it would take forward plans to remove the 26-week qualifying period before employees can request flexible working and the requirement for employees to set out how their flexible working arrangement would be dealt with by their employer.
Employees will be able to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period, and employers will have to respond to a request within two months instead of three.
Organisations will also be required to consult with employees to explore different options before rejecting any flexible working requests and, the existing requirement that the employee must explain what effect, if any, the change applied for would have on the employer and how that effect might be dealt with, will be removed.
Increased flexibility could open up new work opportunities for millions of people, including carers, people with disabilities and especially working parents, as well as help create fairer, more inclusive workplaces and provide significant benefits for employees in terms of wellbeing and work/life balance.