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Government reforms (1): Flexible working

What do we already know?

We updated you in our January 2020 Newsletter Government reforms: New Year, New Law! that the Government had announced in the earlier Queen’s Speech that it intended to introduce the right to work flexibly from the first day of employment.  This was planned to be part of the Employment Bill which was expected to come into effect later that year.  However, the Employment Bill has not yet been introduced.  Making flexible working the default was also part of the Conservative party’s election manifesto.

What’s new?

The Government has published a consultation (available here) which sets out proposals to make flexible working the default. ‘Flexible working’ can include flexible start and finish times, job sharing, part time working, and working compressed and/or annualised hours.

Although the consultation does not propose an automatic right for employees to work flexibly, it does include several measures which would broaden the scope of the right to request flexible working. These proposals demonstrate the Government’s continued commitment to flexible working and reflect the value which employees place on this, particularly as a result of increased opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The five main proposals are to:

(This consultation closed on 1 December 2021).


This consultation shows that the Government’s intention to introduce flexible working as a day one right is still very much alive, despite the lack of any legislation yet.  Also statistics set out in the consultation show how strong the demand for flexible jobs is:  87% of people want to work flexibly and 89% consider flexible working to be a key motivator to their productivity at work.

Given the above it seems very likely that scope of flexible working will increase and we recommend employers start to consider what changes they will need to make to accommodate this.  Think about:

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