Making flexible working the default

Published on: 29/09/2021

#Atypical & Flexible Working

The Government has recently announced a consultation on flexible working, the Making flexible working the default consultation takes place from the Governments Good Work Plan which was published in July 2019 (Good Work Plan: Proposals to support families ( 

The Government is looking for views on whether: - 

  • Flexible working should be a day 1 right  
  • There should be amendments to the eight business reasons for rejecting a flexible working request  
  • Employers should explore alternatives to the employees flexible working request  
  • The rigid administrative requirements in making a flexible working request should be amended 
  • Employees should be made aware of their right to make a temporary flexible working  

The Good Work Plan was published before Covid-19 hit, however, the Making flexible working the default consultation has placed an emphasis on Covid-19 and one of the aims of the consultation is to ensure the labour market is primed for a post Covid-19 world.

Indeed, the Consultation highlights how we have had to adapt during Covid-19 and that not all flexible working practices are suitable in the long term. However, the pandemic has “opened our eyes to what may be possible, and we now have the chance to seize the moment and make flexible working – in all its forms – part of business DNA”. It is no surprise that the Government wants to use this moment to ensure flexible working, in some form, continues post Covid 19.

Research Published by Sage on behalf of the Tavistock Institute shows that employees who have flexible working have higher job satisfaction and increased dedication compared to those who don’t. The full consultation can be accessed here: - (Making flexible working the default - GOV.UK ( 

Prior to Covid-19 a study published in September 2019 by GQR for TUC showed that less than half of the workforce were offered flexible working. Covid-19 obviously changed the way we work and employers who do not offer some sort of flexible working will be seen as out of touch and will likely lose talent.

Employees who have had flexible working request rejected in the past may make them again and if they had flexible working during the pandemic will use that as an example to show how it will work. Employers will have to think carefully on the grounds of any rejections.  

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