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A flexible working future? TUC demand flexible working rights

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Unions have demanded flexible working rights for every employee.

As the restrictions eased on the 19th July in England, some workplaces made the decision to return to their workplaces - or phase a gradual return across a period of time. 

TUC (Trade Union Congress) has called for the right to work flexibly to be extended as people are encouraged to return to the workplace.

As the work from home guidance ends, employers must acknowledge that one size does not fit all. They should consult their staff and unions about continuing flexibility in working patterns and location.

TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady

Flexible working is not a new concept, it can mean having predictable or fixed hours, flexitime, term-time hours, working from home, job-sharing or possible compressed hours. But it is something that has been adopted by more employers and employees since the pandemic. O’Grady shares that “No one should miss out on flexible working” and calls on Ministers to make it a right of every worker in any job, to have the option of flexible working to prevent a new class divide in of those who can work from home and those who can’t.  

O’Grady states that the Government should take a real lead on the guidance surrounding workplace safety and face coverings in order to avoid widespread confusion. As well as this, she calls for a need for an increase in statutory sick pay in order to reduce transmission so that everyone can receive sick pay if they need to self-isolate. 

Ministers have the power to make self-isolation effective overnight – and cut transmission immediately. All they need to do is raise statutory sick pay to the level of the real Living Wage, and make sure everyone can get it.

TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady

Flexible working stats

Have you offered (or did you already offer) flexible working to employees?

As a result of a poll last month (June 2021) looking at flexible working TUC also found:

  • 82% of workers would like to take up a form of flexible working in the future 
  • 54% of employees report that they have the right to request a change in their regular hours of work to work around other commitments (in their current role)
  • People in working-class jobs (23%)are less likely to have worked from home in the pandemic compared to those in higher-paid occupations (60%). 

Another poll focusing on employers making workplace covid-secure also found: 

  • 46% of employers have not taken measures to improve the airflow in the workplaces, according to their employees
  • 17% of employees reported not being given PPE
  • 29% were not consulted on their covid risk assessments that employers conducted
  • 11% report no social distancing measures being enabled 

Flexible working requests 

You can visit the gov.uk website for advice on flexible working or Acas provides advice for both employees making a request, and how employers should handle those requests

Some employees are legally able to ask for a change in their contract by making a 'flexible working request'. They are able to make a request if: 

• you’ve employed them for at least 26 weeks
• they’re legally classed as an employee
• they’ve not made another flexible working request in the last 12 months

Acas

Employers should then follow the Acas Code of Practice on flexible working requests and should check their own policies before making a decision. If you don’t have your own policy, the above Acas CoP is the minimum you should follow. 

Training for Flexible Workers 

Flexible workers - whichever type they may be - will still need a lot of the same training that non-flexible workers need. 

eLearning is the perfect way to meet the training needs for companies that offer flexible working arrangements. Our range of eLearning courses can be used by both employees that are based in the office and those working from home, you can see our courses that help your workers to keep staff safe and compliant whilst remotely working too.

We also offer a FREE guide (made in partnership with Citation) that takes you through, what flexible working is, flexible working requests & exceptions, handling requests fairly and the decision making. 

You can get started with a free no-obligation trial of any of our courses today. 

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