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Why the Flexible Working Bill could improve your recruitment and retention

Flexible Working Bill   Online

Article posted by Megan Bond on Apr 09, 2024

As the expectations and demands of employees evolve, so too must our workplaces. In response to these ever-changing needs, the UK government has introduced a new Flexible Working Bill aimed at empowering employees with greater flexibility and autonomy in managing their work-life balance. 

What has changed with the Flexible Working Bill:

  • Employees are entitled to request flexible working from day one (previously a 26-week qualifying period was in place).

  • Employers must consult with their employees and investigate available options.

  • Employers will need to give their decision within two months (instead of three). 

  • If a request is rejected, employers are required to explain why.

  • Employees can make two requests in any 12-month period (instead of one). 

The Flexible Working Bill gives all employees, regardless of tenure or employment status, the right to request adjustments to their working hours, location, or patterns from day one of employment. The benefit to employees is that flexibility could allow them to better accommodate commitments, such as caregiving responsibilities, disabilities, or health-related needs.

We know from our Diversity in Real Estate report that approximately 30% of those working in the real estate and construction sectors have caring responsibilities, while 9% of those who work in Construction have declared a disability – thus emphasizing the impact this new Bill could have on our sectors.

How employers and employees will benefit from the Bill

Embracing flexible working arrangements can offer numerous benefits, including improved employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity. It could also result in increased job applications, as typically we at Cobalt see higher volumes of applicants for roles where flexibility is offered. 

This change in law will be a win for many employees and further encourage diversity in workplaces and job applications, by allowing those who have disabilities, personal commitments to accommodate, or perhaps just don’t work best in traditional working environments, access to a greater number of employment opportunities. Whether it's adjusting hours to accommodate school pickups, working remotely to avoid rush hour commuting, finding work patterns that allow neurodiverse employees to thrive, allowing for a phased transition into retirement or re-entry into the workforce, or adopting alternative working hours to manage health challenges, employees now have the legal framework to negotiate mutually beneficial arrangements with their employers.

Making the Bill work for you and your employees

Of course, there could still be a stigma associated with asking for flexibility, so whilst employees are legally empowered to ask, they might fear being unfairly disadvantaged by it. A change in attitudes around how, where, and when we are working is necessary, as is an understanding of how people’s different work patterns influence their development opportunities. Ensure that your people managers are updated on the law change and your policy updates to understand employee entitlements and what steps your company would take if a request was made.

It’s important to remember that everyone works in different ways, so using flexibility to allow people to discover how they might be most productive is a winning formula for both employees and employers. By remaining adaptable and flexible as employers, you’ll adopt a culture of trust, inclusivity, and accountability that will drive success while championing employee wellbeing.

We specialise in making recruitment processes in the real estate and construction sectors more inclusive. Please get in touch with me below if you want to discuss how we can work with your organisation.


+44 (0)20 7478 2508

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