Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the right to request flexible working, but, a year on, there is concern that UK businesses have failed to embrace the new legislation.

From 30 June 2014 every employee has had the statutory right to request flexible working after 26 weeks employment service. Before that time, the right had only applied to parents of children under the age of 17, or 18 if the child was disabled, and certain carers.

Many believe that the UK is ever-increasingly in the grip of a war for talent, with organisations struggling to hold onto staff, and there is already strong evidence that flexible working can act as a key differentiator. It can ensure businesses attract and retain the best talents but, one year after the legislation came into effect, there may be a chasm between what people expect and what companies deliver.

Matthew Singer, marketing vice president at applicant tracking system (ATS) and social sourcing provider, Jobvite, feels that companies still struggle to understand the value of flexible working to employees.

“In Jobvite’s 2015 Jobseeker Survey, it was revealed that 38 percent and 25 percent of people respectively stated that work/life balance and flexibility to work from home impacts their decision to take a new job. On top of this, research undertaken by Censuswide and Unify found that 37 percent of companies still do not offer flexible working, despite 39 percent of respondents claiming they would be more loyal to an organisation that did.

“Alongside this, the UK is experiencing a talent shortage. Unemployment in the country is down, but there is a skills gap, with the most talented workers in high demand. This means that organisations must look to different avenues in order to differentiate themselves.”

Key points of the 2014 regulations include;

  • Requests should be in writing stating the date of the request and whether any previous application has been made and the date of that application.
  • Requests and appeals must be considered and decided upon within three months of the receipt of the request.
  • Employers must have a sound business reason for rejecting any request.
  • Employees can only make one request in any 12 month period.


“Flexible working holds the key for many workers,” says Singer. “Ensuring your company offers this means employees feel in control of their own lives, improving both attraction and retention rates. If this is ignored though, your business runs the risk of losing out on the greatest candidates and chances for growth. It might seem like a simple thing, but flexible working can make all the difference.”





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James Marsh is an HR consultant and currently leads the editorial team at HRreview.

An avid HR blogger and tweeter on HR and management issues, James has worked as an HR manager, consultant, in-house recruiter and trainer and has expertise in both management strategy and HR policies and processes. He has a BA from the University of Nottingham in American Studies, a Masters in Human Resource Management from the University of Westminster and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

James is also the regular chairperson of HRreview's series of webinars that discuss and debate the latest HR trends and issues, InsideHR.