As Laura Farris MP writes for Marie Claire, if passed, this new freedom could have "transformative implications" for women in particular.
The conversation about flexible working isn't a new one, but it's been accelerated far beyond expectation due to the coronavirus. And now, it seems, the government is taking steps towards doing something about it.
After the majority of the UK workforce was given the freedom to work from home and manage their time more autonomously throughout the past 18 months, flexibility is something many people are now keen to maintain long-term. In fact, as Marie Claire research published earlier this month showed, a substantial proportion of women in the workplace - those who have children, and those of childbearing age who don't - believe the ability to work flexibly is now a non-negotiable.
Over half of women (52%) surveyed by Marie Claire and LinkedIn said they would turn down a job offer if the company didn’t offer the flexible working they required to maintain a work/life balance. While almost as many (50%) said they would quit a job they already had if it didn’t offer them what they needed flexibility-wise. So it's refreshing to see new government proposals announced today that seek to enhance many workers' right to request flexible working.
Under the proposed new law, British workers would have the entitlement to request flexible working from day one of employment, as opposed to waiting the six months that's currently mandated.
The potential legislation would also seek to reduce the current three-month period an employer has to consider any request, reflecting the fact that flexible working must be treated as more of a priority going forward. It would also set out that if an employer couldn't accommodate an application for flexible working, they'd need to think about what alternatives they could offer instead.
Laura Farris MP, who also serves as co-chair of the Women & Work APPG, has written for Marie Claire, detailing why she feels this new law, if passed, could be very beneficial for UK workers - and working women, in particular:
Marie Claire Newsletter
Celebrity news, beauty, fashion advice, and fascinating features, delivered straight to your inbox!
Cat is a Senior Editor at Marie Claire, covering news and features across the brand's key purpose pillars, including women's issues, politics, career, mental health, female empowerment and equality, as well as books.