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Flexible working: it’s time for employers to opt in

Flexible working: it’s time for employers to opt in

Posted on 6th August 2019

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What with Brexit and Boris, not to mention the start of the football season, the Ashes and the rather warm but variable weather we’ve experienced recently, it’s possible that you may have missed one of the most interesting and, in many respects, radical proposals to be put to the House of Commons in recent years.   

Namely, the bill, introduced by Helen Whately in mid-July, which seeks to make flexible working the default position for all jobs.  

flexible working

Currently, any employee who has been in a job for a minimum of six months can ask for flexible working, although it’s up to their employer to decide whether to grant this or not. However, this has only been the case since 2014 and at present less than 10% of jobs over £20K are advertised as offering flexible hours.  There are a number of job-boards specifically for those looking for this sort of working arrangement (Timewise is probably the best of these), but in all  honesty I think that only a minority of employers still think in “permanent” ways and the idea of the 9-5 working day has long since gone, with only c. 6% of employees working to those traditional hours.  In reality, this law is standardising the new normal.

In IT, flexible working has long been accepted, and certainly at Be-IT we practise what we preach, however, I do think that this new bill moves us that bit further, and in a good way. I and my colleagues write regularly in our blog about how technology is changing the ways in which we work, and more specifically the ways in which we won’t work as said technology takes over some of our jobs. In my view, and always assuming that it makes it to the statute book (the government having one or two other things on its plate), this is a welcome step forward. More specifically, if it becomes law then it will be for the employer to opt out of making a job flexible rather than the employee to opt in.  The power will still lie with the employer, but, if successful, this proposal has the chance to change the default setting for employment for us all.   

Gareth Biggerstaff, CEO, Be-IT 

Posted in News, Recruitment News

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