On 23rd September 2021, HMRC published a new consultation document called “Making Flexible Working The Default” as part of a review of the Flexible Working Regulations (2014). Much of this has been driven by covid-19 lockdown, home and remote working as well as employees desire to continue to work flexibly. Indeed, two ‘spin-offs’ may be:
History of Flexible Working
2003: Parents and certain carers were allowed to request flexible working conditions from their employer
2014: The ability to request flexible working was extended to include all employers that have been in the job for 26 weeks or more under Flexible Working Regulations (2014).
2021: HMRC consultation in progress to make flexible working the default position for all jobs and workers with employers only able to refuse if meeting certain criteria. In addition, if an employer is unable to offer flexible working then the employer must offer alternatives. Consultation ends on 1 December 2021.
Current Flexible Working Rules 2014
Employees of 26 weeks or longer can request flexible working. Employers must consider the request properly and can only refuse for 8 reasons:
Flexible working is here to stay. There are clearly pros and cons but by making it the default position, employers will have to adapt their business models where they can, to cope with any new flexible working rules. In addition, we suspect that the above 2014 grounds for refusal will be ‘watered down’.