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The future of flexible working

Blog post

Kate Fielding
9th August 2021
Laptop on a home desk in front of open window
Image: Mikey Harris via Unsplash

Flexible working has been in the news a lot recently, as many organisations have been considering their approaches to returning to the office following the ending of the ‘work from home if you can’ guidance on 19th July. See also our blog on managing a successful return to the workplace.

Amidst speculation that the government was considering making it a right for employees to continue to work from home following the end of the Covid-19 restrictions, they were recently forced to clarify their position. Although that change was not brought forward, the government does intend to open a consultation later in the year to examine whether flexibility should be the default option. This would mean employers being required to demonstrate why employees cannot work flexibly, rather than the other way around.

The Flexible Working Bill          

On 30th June, Tulip Siddiq, Shadow Minister for Education, brought forward a bill in the House of Commons which, if passed, would:

  • Give workers the right to flexible working from the first day of employment except in exceptional circumstances; and
  • Require employers to offer flexible working arrangements in employment contracts and advertise the available types of such flexibility in vacancy notices.

Introducing the bill, Ms Siddiq said “Four out of five people want to work flexibly in future” and that “the truth is that flexible working disproportionately benefits people who are women, people who are disabled, people who are carers, people who are from low-income backgrounds and people from a black and minority ethnic background”.

The bill has cross party support and is being supported by a number of organisations including the TUC, Fawcett Society and Pregnant Then Screwed. There is certainly gathering momentum towards a more flexible working culture in the UK, whether this bill passes or we are required to wait for the consultation (the CIPD are also campaigning to make the right to request flexible working a day one right, in their campaign, ‘Flex from 1st’).  We will watch the progress of both with interest and will bring you further updates.

What does this mean for my co-op?

Many co-ops already offer flexible working as a day one right, and still more appreciate the wide benefits that flexibility can bring to both the organisation and the individuals within it. If you would like advice or guidance around developing a flexible working culture within your co-op, please do get in touch with our advice team.

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