Know Your Flexible Working Rights Employment

The COVID pandemic has radically changed the working landscape. Not only has it forced a change in working culture — with a greater emphasis on the work-life balance — but workers have come to understand their working rights to a greater extent than they did before.

In the post-Covid world, it’s important for you to understand your working rights in regards to flexible working. Not only do they ensure your professional protection, but they also protect your health — something that we should all protect.

This is particularly true if you’re looking to get back into work and find yourself struggling. Flexible working was designed to maximise the work-life balance, protect employers, and keep people in work — so it’s definitely something you should know about.

Flexible Working

According to the CIPD’s 2019 report on Flexible Working in the UK, the right to flexible working is one of the most popular labour market policies ever. To be honest, it’s hard to see how that couldn’t be the case.

Flexible working gives employees the freedom to change their working days and hours to suit their needs. For example, a parent working full-time might request that they start their working day earlier so that they can pick their children up in the afternoon. Alternatively, a person might ask to keep their current number of hours per week but over fewer days.

It’s really easy to request flexible working. According to the UK Government, the basic steps for requesting flexible working are as follows:

1. The employee applies to their employer in writing

This application letter should include the following:

  • The date of the application
  • A statement that this is a statutory request
  • Details of how the employee wants to work flexibly and when they want to start
  • An explanation of how flexible working could affect the business and how this could be minimized
  • A statement if and when any previous applications have been made

Ideally, you’ll have two copies of your request letter: one for your employer and one for your own records — this will be very useful if you have to take your employer to an employment tribunal.

2. The employer considers the request

After receiving your request, your employer has up to 3 months to consider it. They may take longer; however, they must inform you and get your permission before taking any longer.

3. Final decision

If your employer agrees to your request, they will inform you and then change your work contract to reflect the new change. They may allow you to make the shift to flexible working immediately or give you a start day.

If, however, they do not agree to the change, they will inform you. This will normally take the form of a written response, which thoroughly explains the business reasons for their refusal. If your employer does refuse your request, and you believe they have done so in a manner that is not reasonable, you can take them to a formal employment tribunal.

For more information about taking your employer to a formal employment tribunal, click here.

Working From Home

Of particular note is the right to work from home. Before COVID, you had the right to request to work from home as part of the wider Flexible Working framework. Despite COVID, this is still the case, and you do not have the automatic right to work from home. However, legislation may soon be changing to give employers the automatic right to work from home, unless their job requires them to come into work.

While information is scarce at this point, there are encouraging indications from within Whitehall. Cabinet Minister Michael Gove has indicated that he is not averse to the idea of a new hybrid economy when he told Radio 4:

“I suspect it may be the case that we may see different workplaces allowing people to work from home at certain points as well as coming into the office. I think there may be changes to the way that we live.”

While solid information is scarce at this point. It’s important to monitor the situation as it could easily change. We will, of course, keep you informed as things change.

Contact Us Today

For more information about your working rights, or anything related to getting back into work, contact us today.