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Suzanne Townley

News Editor, Solicitors Journal

Law Society: right to request flexible working should start with job offer

Law Society: right to request flexible working should start with job offer


Employees currently have the right to request flexible working from 'day one'

The Law Society has said the government should go further than the current ‘day one’ right to request flexible working and extend the right to candidates who have been offered a role following interview.

The day one right to request flexible working is a relatively new right, which was cautiously welcomed by members of the legal profession.

Earlier this week, the Society submitted its response to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s consultation, ‘Making Flexible Working the Default’.

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce commented: “Giving employees the right to request flexible working from day one of a new job is a positive development, but the government can do more.

“They should extend this right to the time someone is offered a position. This would encourage employers and employees to have these conversations when the terms of employment are being negotiated and there is more room for both parties to identify solutions”.

Boyce highlighted that the covid-19 pandemic has provided staff with the opportunity to prove they can successfully work flexibly.

She added: “Employees may need to work flexibly for many different reasons and should feel confident to make such requests from the moment an employer asks them to work for them.

“If flexibility is an important factor in deciding whether to accept a new role the prospective employee should feel comfortable about raising this before they have to resign from their current position.”

The Law Society agreed with the consultation proposal that employers should be required to demonstrate they have considered alternative working arrangements before rejecting a statutory request for flexible working.

“Considering alternatives and having a dialogue with the employee should be key components of properly considering a flexible working request,” said Boyce.

“If a flexible working request is denied workers may be able to make an employment tribunal claim. However, the backlog in the employment tribunals mean they may face long delays in having their claim heard, which is likely to have a negative impact on both parties. Investment is needed to ensure timely access to justice for all.”