Study shows that 90% of employees want employers to maintain flexible working practices


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A survey carried out by Working Families shows that 90% of employees want employers to maintain flexible working practices introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The survey involved 1,000 working parents and carers, and found that 84% of respondents are now working flexibly, while only 65% were offered flexible working options before the pandemic.

Working Families has called on the government to strengthen the statutory right to request flexible working, and has also called on the government to implement its plan to introduce legislation requiring employers to advertise jobs with flexible options where possible.

Legislation introducing an employee's right to work from home may be brought in as part of the government's return to work package according to government sources.  BEIS is reported to be considering potential legislation which would protect employees who feel it is unsafe for them to return to work, and could also benefit employers who are struggling to make their workplace safe in accordance with social distancing requirements. 

In the meantime, it is inevitable that there will be calls for increased flexile/agile working following the pandemic, and lost of employers and employees will be considering it as an option.  There is no automatic right to flexible working at present, and a statutory request will have to be made.  Currently it should be no harder for an employer to refuse a request under the statutory scheme than it has been in the past.  There will, as always, be an onus on employers to deal with requests reasonably, but the request can be refused on one of the statutory grounds.  It will obviously be important to deal sensitively with any concerns that an employee may have in returning to work as a result of COVID-19, and to ensure that all staff are treated equally when they are making requests.  It's also worth being aware of potential sex discrimination and disability discrimination claims.

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