Proposed Changes to Flexible Working and Carer’s Leave

Members may have seen in the news that the Government has launched a consultation on making flexible working the default position when an employee starts employment.  The present rules on flexible working require employees to have a 26 week qualifying period before making application for flexible working.  Under the Government proposals, they are considering whether to make that a right from day one.  

Under the present law, provided the employer goes through the procedure properly, it can reject a flexible working request for up to 8 statutory business grounds which are set out in the legislation.  Again in this area, the Government is reviewing those rights to refuse and also consider whether or not they should require employers to consider alternatives when turning down any request.

In a separate but related development the Government also confirmed it’s wish to introduce a “day one” right to carer’s leave consisting of 5 working days unpaid leave per year for employees managing long term caring responsibilities alongside work.

The consultation on flexible working closes on the 1st December 2021, so keep an eye on the news after that date for the final form of the proposals and potentially a timetable on when they may come into law.  If as anticipated, there are changes, then employers will need to review their flexible working policies.

As always, this advice is general in nature and will need to be tailored to any one particular situation. As a MILS member you have access to the MILS Legal advice line, as well as a number of industry experts for your assistance. Should you find yourself in the situation above, contact us at any stage for advice and assistance as appropriate.