'Sold out working people' | Plan for new law on remote working requests under fire

Plan for new law on remote working requests under fire

This week, a new law has been proposed that will allow employees to submit a request for remote working from their first day in a job, according to a report published by The Times.

The revised law, which is expected to be confirmed on Thursday, came about as a result of the mass move to home working due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It will allow all employees to make such a request at the start of a new role, with an emphasis on enabling working parents, disabled people and carers to balance their work and life commitments.

It marks a milestone departure from current legislation, which requires employees to accrue 26 weeks, or half a year, of continuous service before any legal right to request flexible working structures is granted.

However the bill has come under scrutiny from ministers within the Labour party. Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, stated that the plans aren’t as stringent as they should be in protecting the rights of workers.

“Labour will give workers the right to flexible working – not just the right to request it – and give all workers full rights from day one on the job,” she said, as reported by City AM.

“This is a U-turn from the Conservative manifesto which promised to make flexible working the default and once again the Conservatives have sold out working people.

“The ‘new normal’ after this pandemic must mean a new deal for all working people based on flexibility, security and strengthened rights at work,” Rayner continued.

Raj Krishnamurthy, CEO at workplace energy company Freespace, told HR Grapevine that the current plans are ‘far behind’ the evolution of working life. “Most businesses have recognised that partial home working is here to stay. Companies we have spoken to have made structural changes to contracts resulting in over 25% of their staff permanently working from home,” he said.

“Businesses and Governments that recognise and adopt the benefits of new ways of working and the tools to assist it will drive strategic differentiation of their workforce from the ones that do not adapt to this seismic shift,” he concluded.

Many major firms, such as HSBC, Google, Zoom and Asda have taken it upon themselves to build a hybrid approach into their working structures. All three firms have already publicly confirmed plans to allow workers to operate on a hybrid basis.

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Jacki Simpson, Asda’s Vice President of People Operations, previously explained that staff had asked for greater flexibility so that they could continue with remote working post-pandemic.

She explained: “However, they also acknowledge there is some work that is simply better done from the office, so as we move forward, a hybrid working model is the right approach for our people and the business.”
“We believe this approach will help us attract and retain the best talent and will continue to position Asda as an employer of choice,” Simpson added.

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