Help to improve flexible working proposals

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“Flexible working is not a perk, it’s a necessity for a modern, forward-looking economy,” says UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea in response to government proposals.

The government’s consultation on ‘making flexible working the default’ closes on Wednesday (1 December), leaving workers just two days to make their voices heard.

Have your say on flexible working

Under the consultation’s current proposals, workers would be granted the right to request flexible working on day one of taking up a job, a move which the general secretary called, “welcome and long overdue”.

However, the proposals, do not go far enough and UNISON has been working with the TUC to support their campaign to take access to flexible working further.

The TUC’s proposals highlight that those who need flexible working the most – for example, parents, carers and disabled workers – need to know what flexibility they will be afforded before they apply to jobs, rather than on day one.

This is reinforced by survey results which indicate that many people are discouraged from enquiring about flexible options during the job  interview process for fear of discrimination or being seen as awkward and less committed.

UNISON, along with the TUC, is calling for, among other things:

  • a duty on employers, before any refusal, to consider alternative flexible options,
  • to fully explain the exceptional circumstances of the job which means they cannot be offered
  • to put flexible working options in all job adverts.

Furthermore, to emphasise the importance of dialogue in employment relations, UNISON is also calling for a duty to hold a face to face discussion within two weeks of a request being made so that all considerations and expectations are taken into account ahead of a final decision.

Christina McAnea added: “This current consultation on making the right-to-request a day one right is undoubtedly a step in the right direction but we are urging the Westminster government to be bolder.

“We need policies that will make flexible working the norm – legislation to make it a duty on employers to include flexible working in their job adverts.

“We need the government to champion the cultural shift to building flexibility into all jobs from the start and not just a right to ask a ‘favour’.”

Sign the petition

Use the TUC’s easy responder tool

See Christina’s blog on the issue:

Blog: Working towards a flexible, fairer future