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DWF comments on plans to strengthen day one employment rights

23 September 2021

Joanne Frew, Global Deputy Head of Employment & Pensions at DWF, comments on the government plan to strengthen day one employment rights and increase productivity of businesses by allowing employees to request flexible working from the outset. 

Speaking about the government's plan, Joanne said: 

"These plans were initially proposed in the 2019 manifesto but were delayed due to the onset of the pandemic.  The consultation will consider whether the three-month decision period an employer has to consider the request should be reduced and whether only one request per annum represents the optimum balance between individual and business needs.  The last 18 months has seen an unprecedented increase in flexible working, with the pandemic acting as a catalyst for change.  The consultation is exploring the position when employers cannot accommodate the request, with alterative solutions being encouraged.  In order to retain top talent and promote a culture of diversity and inclusion it is essential that employers take flexible working requests seriously and consider innovative ways to make requests work.  Open communication between the employer and employee is key.  Having a blanket policy of not allowing employees to work flexibly can be incredibly detrimental to organisations, from the risk of discrimination claims to a reduced talent pool.  However, it is also important that employers retain the right to refuse certain requests when there is an insurmountable clash with business needs.  Employers have faced an incredibly challenging period; business continuity has to be a top priority."  

"The government has also proposed to give unpaid carers who are balancing a job in addition to caring for a dependant with long-terms needs, one week's unpaid leave as a day one right.  Recognising that many people are struggling to juggle work with caring responsibilities is certainly a step in the right direction.  However, it is questionable how many employees can afford to take unpaid leave."

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