New government legislation could mean workers will be able to ask for flexible work patterns as soon as they start a new job.

The UK government has said it will introduce legislation allowing staff the right to request such allowances from the time they start a job.

Unions applauded the move and urged ministers to go further in making such agreements the new norm.

Millions of UK employees are now working flexibly.

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It can take various forms including working from home, job-sharing, compressed hours, flexitime, and part-time and term-time-only working.

It also said nearly 1.5 million low-wage workers would benefit from a new rule allowing them to supplement their income by doing a second job if they so choose.

This includes some gig workers, students, and caregivers.

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Surveys conducted by firms like the insurer Royal London show many people now regard flexibility as an essential, if not non-negotiable, need when searching for jobs.

With a severe labour shortage, an increasing number of companies must provide alternative working patterns in order to recruit and retain employees.

But, some employees said in a TUC survey that they would be afraid to ask for flexible working hours in a job interview for fear of the response.

Ministers said on Monday that they intend to “make flexible working the default.”

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However, critics have referred to disputes between the administration and civil servants and unions over the topic of home working.

The current law states all workers have the right to ask for flexible working conditions after 26 weeks on the job.

Employers have three months to reply to one request per 12 months, with broad parameters for refusal and no right to appeal.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) stated that under the new law, millions will be able to request flexible working from day one.

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Employers will be compelled to offer other solutions before they deny a request.

For example, if changing an employee’s working hours on all days is not practicable, they may consider making the adjustment on select days.

BEIS also said that those on contracts with a fixed weekly wage of less than £123 would be shielded from “exclusivity clauses.”

It will prevent them from working for multiple companies.

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It further said that “while not everyone will want a second job,” this step would eliminate superfluous red tape that was preventing those who wanted.

These can be some gig economy workers, youngsters, and carers who were unable to commit to a full-time position.

The BEIS, however, did not provide a timeframe for the legislation.

Source: The Guardian

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