A new right to flexible working

Thu 22 December 2022

Joe Brunwin

New legislation will give employees the right to request flexible working from day one of their employment. Employers may only reject these requests if they have a credible reason for doing so. 

The new rules will also mean that if an employer can't accommodate a request to work flexibly, they'll have to discuss alternative options before they can reject the request.

Employees will be allowed to submit two statutory requests in any 12 month period, rather than one request which is currently allowed.

These measures will be made possible through the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill introduced by Yasmin Qureshi MP. The Bill has received Government support and we expect it to become law next spring.

“Employment without barriers”

Earlier this year, together with the All Party Parliamentary Group for MS, we published a report “Employment without barriers”. This followed an inquiry looking at what additional support is needed by people with MS in the workplace.

People with MS told us flexible working can be a huge help. This includes having later starting times, working condensed hours and working from home, allowing people to better manage their symptoms. While more people have been able to work flexibly since the Covid-19 pandemic, there are some who haven't been able to work in this way, despite wanting to.

Stories from people with MS in Parliament

Speaking in the House of Commons about the Bill earlier this year, Yasmin highlighted the experiences of people with MS:

“The MS Society shared numerous cases of how flexible working has benefited people with MS. I learned about Trishna, who lives with MS and has found that having good, flexible working policies from her employer means that she is able to stay in work longer.

"Flexible working means that she can work from home with flexible hours and can manage her workload around her fatigue. She can start work early and finish early when she needs to, and can bank hours for days when she does not have the energy or strength to work.”

We're pleased the Government will implement our recommendations for flexible working.  In our report, we also set out other ways the Government can better support people with MS at work, such as improving the Access to Work scheme. We’ll be meeting with the Government in the New Year to discuss this.

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