“A nightmare for employers” – HRs and small business owners respond to Govt plans for flexible working from Day One and multi-employment

by | Dec 5, 2022

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HRs, recruiters and small business owners have responded to new plans by the Government to allow employees to ask for flexible working from day one of their employment and for the lowest paid to have the right to work for different employers. Some are very much in favour, others see it as a “nightmare for employers”.

Chris Sanderson, CEO of the hospitality recruitment app, Limber: “These laws are good news for working people. Unlike other announcements, such as trials on the 4-day week, this one goes some way to improving work for low paid shift workers on the front line. For shift-working industries, though, these proposed laws pose a massive challenge. When scheduling your staff, the rota only fits one way, and constant claims for flexible working, now backed up by this proposed legislation, will put yet more strain on staffing in those industries. For us as a platform, we welcome the banning of draconian exclusivity clauses. It will mean more access to more income streams for more people, which will be crucial during a recession.”

Steven Mather, director at Leicester-based Steven Mather Solicitor: “The right for low paid workers to do more than one job, removing exclusivity clauses, is a sensible move and prevents the sharp practice of employing someone giving them low hours and stopping them working elsewhere. As for the ability to request flexible working from day one, this looks like a major improvement for employees. But most small employers won’t like this announcement. In my experience, most flexible working requests are denied because they don’t meet the business requirements and the exceptions and get-outs for a business will remain. That means more requests and more rejections. Businesses have to be careful not to be discriminatory when dealing with flexible working requests or they’ll have employment tribunal claims on their hands from day one, too. They’ll also have to work a bit harder to reach a compromise on what would be acceptable to the business.”

Lily Shippen, director of London-based recruiter, Lily Shippen: “I don’t believe the Government should be getting involved here. It should be down to the employer to set their flexible working policies, if their trade allows for it. Quite simply, if they don’t have attractive policies, they won’t attract the best talent. Whilst flexible working is here to stay, Gen-Z professionals especially need to begin their career knowing what is required to succeed in their role, rather than searching for the perfect job based on flexibility alone. This sort of policy doesn’t encourage this.”

 

Chris Maslin, director at Tunbridge Wells-based employee ownership specialists, Go Eo: “So as a business, you advertise for a full time in-office role, someone interviews for it, impresses you, accepts the job and then, on their first day, says: “I’d like to only work Tuesdays, and from home”? If that’s really what’s proposed here, it’s nonsensical. Fine for candidates to ask in the interview or a few years in if their situation changes. Accepting a job on one premise then immediately asking for another sounds like a nightmare for employers.”

Cheney Hamilton, CEO at Darlington-based flexible working recruiter, Find Your Flex: “The right to request flexibility from day one is much of a muchness, as loopholes for those businesses hoping to avoid making these changes still exist. However, a shift to outcomes and the ability to work for multiple employers synchronously is the exciting part of this announcement. Businesses that adopt multi-portfolio workers will benefit from a new found agility and sustainability and will be well positioned to adapt quickly to the future and whatever it holds. Exciting times ahead.”

Sam Alsop-Hall, Chief Strategy Officer at Birmingham-based healthcare and NHS recruiter, Woodrow Mercer Healthcare: “This is a nightmare for commercial landlords, a nightmare for the hospitality sector, and a nightmare for employers trying to upskill entry-level employees. It’s not the Government’s place to get involved here. Let the job market decide the balance of flexible and hybrid working based on the needs of businesses in different sectors. This will have major unintended consequences for years to come.”

 

Samuel Mather-Holgate of Swindon-based advisory firm, Mather & Murray Financial: “This is great news for the economy and the happiness of the nation. Economically, it makes sense to allow workers to do as much to contribute to the national income as they can, as currently employers can veto second jobs. However, it also works to make people happier. If someone can complete a week’s work in an extended 4-day week and then spend that extra earned day with their family if that’s what they choose, why should employers prevent that? So long as there is no detriment to the outcomes of the work, flexibility should be a given and I’m pleased to see this announced.”

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