Interactive Investor

Making flexible working the default

23rd September 2021 14:01

Rebecca O'Connor from interactive investor

interactive investor comments on government consultation to reform flexible working regulations.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has today launched a consultation seeking views from individuals and businesses on proposals to reform flexible working regulations – including making the right to request flexible working a day one right.

Commenting, Becky O’Connor, Head of Pensions and Savings, interactive investor, said: “The right to work flexibly is a missing link for gender equality, not just in the workplace, but domestically and financially. The government’s plans, if enacted, will over time make a huge difference and have the potential to end unequal retirement outcomes for men and women completely.

“Making flexibility a default position will help even out the gender pay gap and the gender pension gap because it will enable people, usually mothers, who would otherwise have been frozen out of the workplace by restrictive hours to continue their careers and also their pension contributions.

“Flexibility is vital for many people, not just those with young families but carers of all kinds. The demands of modern life and often the requirement for more than one partner in a couple to work to make ends meet, but still be able to make things like nursery and school pick-ups, means flexibility is an absolute need, not just a nice-to-have.”

Key points

  • The proposals consider whether limiting an employee’s application for flexible working to one per year continues to represent the best balance between individual and business needs. The consultation also looks at cutting the current 3-month period an employer has to consider any request.
  • If an employer cannot accommodate a request, as can be the case, they would need to think about what alternatives they could offer – for example, if they couldn’t change their employee’s hours on all working days, they could consider making the change for certain days instead.
  • The consultation looks at a range of flexible working methods such as job-sharing, flexitime, compressed, annualised and staggered hours, as well as phased retirement – not just working from home. It allows employees to balance their work and home life, including helping people who are managing childcare commitments or other caring responsibilities as well as ensuring that people who are under-represented in Britain’s workforce, such as new parents or disabled people, have access to more opportunities.

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