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Redressing one-sided flexibility and further proposals to support families

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There has been a flurry of activity in Theresa May’s last week in office, including the government issuing further consultations under the auspices of the Good Work Plan. One consultation deals with one-sided flexibility and the other invites responses on several proposals to support families.

The consultation on one-sided flexibility follows on from the Taylor review. In particular, the issue identified that some employers were abusing employee flexibility to transfer excessive amounts of risk to employees with no corresponding benefit. The Low Pay Commission also highlighted in its 2018 report that shift calculations and short notice of work schedules were significant issues, particularly for low-paid workers.

The driver behind the second consultation appears to be a longer term political strategy to boost the economy and find solutions that allow individuals to find, advance and stay in work. This is also feeds into the government’s equality drive.

A summary of the points for consultation and the window for consultation is outlined below:

Consultation on one-sided flexibility
Points for consultation:

  • Right to reasonable notice of work schedule
  • Compensation for shift cancellation or curtailment without reasonable notice
  • Employers sharing best practice

Closes: 11 October 2019

Proposals to support families
Points for consultation:

  • Options for reforming existing entitlements which could help parents to balance the gender division of parental leave
  • Proposals for new leave and pay entitlement for parents of babies that require neonatal care
  • A potential duty to consider if a job can be done flexibly
  • Options for large employers (with more than 250 employees) to publish their family related leave and pay, and flexible working policies

Closes:
Chapter 1 (parental leave and pay) – 29 November 2019
Chapter 2 (neonatal leave and pay) and chapter 3 (transparency) – 11 October 2019

We understand from the consultation on one-sided flexibility that the Taylor review proposals regarding higher National Minimum Wage rate for non-guaranteed hours have been explored but will not move forward. That consultation also confirms (the position as we understood it) that legislation will be introduced to provide a right for all workers to switch to a more settled work pattern with employers being required to justify their decision based on conditions which will be included in the legislation. Furthermore, the right to a written statement of key terms will be extended to all workers as well as employees. These proposals are generally accepted but the rights with regards to a settled working pattern may be similar to the right to request flexible working. If so, this may not be as fundamental a development as it may appear on initial reading.