Is flexibility really what it’s all about?


11th April 2024

The recent changes to the right to request flexible working, effective on 6 April 2024, attracted considerable publicity. Flexibility and flexible working continue to be championed as the way forward but what do we really mean by flexible working, and is flexibility always a good thing?

In contrast, later in 2024 (possibly September) we will also see the introduction of the right to request a predictable working pattern – the very opposite of flexibility. This right will apply to workers and employees whose working pattern is unpredictable in some way, whether in terms of the number of hours they work, the days and times they work, or the length of the contract. Notably, any contract for a fixed term of 12 months or less is considered “unpredictable”.

The worker will need to have worked for their employer for 26 weeks before they are able to make a request. The legislation is similar to the flexible working legislation, in that it obliges employers to consider the request and respond within a set time-frame (in this case one month) and they can only refuse a request on the basis of specified statutory grounds (which are, in the main, the same as those which apply to flexible working requests).

Blake Morgan Senior Associate Madeleine Mould considers how, at the heart of both regimes is an effort to redress the imbalance of power between employers and workers, and give workers more agency over the way they work in an article first published in Reward Strategy here.

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