Under current rules, employees cannot request a hybrid working arrangement until six months into a job, however staff will soon be allowed to ask from their first day
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Workers will be able to request the right to avoid the office from their first day on the job under reforms to be announced on Thursday.
Any employee will be able to make a request to work from home, but the move is particularly aimed at supporting women, disabled people, parents and carers who often struggle to balance their work and professional lives.
Ministers are set to confirm laws to protect flexible working that were shelved before the pandemic this week.
Under current rules, employees cannot request a hybrid working arrangement until six months into a job.
Firms are required to consider the request in a “reasonable manner” and have to make a decision within three months – however they have no legal obligation to honour it.
If the request is refused, the worker can escalate it to an employment tribunal, although many rarely do.
A government source told The Times: “The business case is compelling. If you’re happy at work you’re less likely to leave, and companies benefit from motivated employees.”
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Boris Johnson promised to strengthen flexible working laws in the Tory manifesto in 2019 and the pandemic has accelerated the shift to home working arrangements.
Businesses that are returning to normal are already employing hot-desk policies and part time office hours to save on costs and overheads.
This year the government created a Flexible Working Taskforce, which provides advice to businesses managing the return of employees to the office. It is also examining the lasting effects of the pandemic on working habits.
Labour has called for all employees to be given the absolute right to work from home, but the government has rejected this.
Alex Chisholm, chief operating officer of the civil service, admitted last week that many civil servants would not go back to the office.
He said it was “difficult and expensive” to get staff into London for meetings and that flexible working had turned out to be a “huge positive”.