Will coronavirus lead to flexible working?

Coronavirus has made a difference in the way many people work: Over the last year, many people have been working from home. It is understood that, as a result of this, the government is considering an expansion of employees’ rights to work flexible hours or to work from home.

It is understood that a public consultation is to be launched later this year on how the flexible approach to office life could be extended so that workers can maintain their current working patterns.

A government spokeswoman said:

We have committed to consult on making flexible working the default unless employers have good reasons not to. This consultation will be launched in due course.

The government’s manifesto already sets out that:

we will encourage flexible working and consult on making it the default unless employers have good reasons not to.

The review is being led by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Recently, Liz Truss (the minister for women and equalities) called on employers to make flexible working a standard option for employees, to help to level up the UK, boost opportunities for women, and to reduce the geographic inequality as the nation recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. With more people working flexibly due to coronavirus, Truss argued that now could be the time to normalise it across the country. She said the move would boost employment in areas away from major cities and help turbocharge opportunities for women – who are twice as likely as men to work flexibly.

What will the future hold?

I cannot tell you whether the future holds a legal right for flexible working, but I can comment that many of the “office-based” companies that I am talking to about this subject are thinking about it.