Right to request flexible working not working

Nearly 5 years since the statutory right to request flexible working was extended to employees with 26 weeks' continuous employment, new research from CMI shows levels of awareness and understanding of the legislation amongst UK managers remain low.

A national survey of just under 950 managers shows that only three quarters (74%) were aware that employees have a statutory right to request flexible working.

When asked what the statutory right comprised:

  • 55% of managers think an employee has a statutory right to ask their employer to change the times when they are required to work after 26 weeks of employment;
  • 50% think an employee has a right to ask to change the hours they are required to work; and
  • 32% think an employee has a right to ask to change where they are required to work.

Only a quarter (26%) of managers knew that the statutory right allows employees to request a change in hours, time or location of work.

Rob Wall, CMI Head of Policy said:

Flexible working is good business sense: it helps attract and retain talent, improves employee engagement and boosts productivity. It can also help close the gender pay gap, which alone should be a wake-up call for the thousands of businesses that have seen their pay gap increase over the last 12 months.

Line managers are key to making flexible working work. This means managers need to be equipped to help staff work flexibly and empowered to champion flexible working and call out bad practice. The fact that only 1 in 4 managers fully understand the existing right to request legislation shows the gap between the rhetoric around flexible working and the reality.

The truth is that legislation can only take us so far in terms of shifting behaviours and attitudes. To reap the full benefits of flexible working, employers need to show genuine commitment and develop data-driven action plans which make flexible working a reality. At CMI, we think these could be part of the wider Action Plans that organisations should be developing on how they plan to close their gender pay gaps.

The statutory right to request flexible working allows a qualifying employee to apply to their employer for a change to their terms and conditions of employment relating to their hours, times or location of work. Initially, the right applied to certain employees with parental or caring responsibilities. However, the Children and Families Act 2014 extended the right to all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous employment. Where an employee makes a request, the employer must consider this in a “reasonable manner”. Requests can be refused where there is a clear business reason to do so.

 

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Notes to Editors:

The Manager's Voice was a survey undertaken by CMI of their practising members. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6th November and 4th December 2019 and 940 UK-based members responded.

About the CMI

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) is the only chartered professional body for management and leadership, dedicated to improving managers' skills and growing the number of qualified managers.

Our professional management qualifications span GCSE to PhD equivalents, including the unique Chartered Manager award, which increases earning potential and improves workplace performance.

CMI has led the way in developing a suite of trailblazing management apprenticeships with a 40-strong group of employers. These start from Level 3 (team leader) and Level 5 (operations manager) through to Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship. The Senior Leader Master's Degree Apprenticeship gives employers the option to upskill up to executive and C-suite level. CMI is a Skills Funding Agency-registered apprentice assessment organisation.

We provide employers and individual managers with access to the latest management thinking and with practical online support that helps them to embrace change, create high-performing teams and keep ahead of the curve.

With a member community of more than 157,000 managers and leaders, we promote high standards of ethical practice through our Professional Code of Conduct, and help managers to build their expertise through online networks, regional events and mentoring opportunities.

 


For further information please contact:
Head of Media Relations - John Kaponi
Tel: 020 7421 2743