Employment Bill Delays a ‘Bitter Blow’ for Workers

April 2022

Any delays in making flexible working an automatic right for employees will come as a ‘bitter blow for thousands’, employment law experts have said.

The caution comes after reports emerged that the long-awaited Employment Bill will not feature in the Queen’s Speech this May, despite the government’s commitment to make flexible working ‘the default’ as part of its 2019 election manifesto.

As part of the proposed changes, all employees would be entitled to request flexible working from day one of employment.

In addition, the Bill was to give further protection to pregnant employees and more predictable contracts for workers who work variable hours. It was also to include measures to support unpaid carers.

Commenting on the delays, employment lawyer Anita North said the lack of emphasis on making the right to request flexible working available to all employees was ‘at odds’ with the needs of workers post-pandemic.

She said: “The Government’s Employment Bill isn’t a nice to have. It includes important legislative changes which are needed to protect the rights of employees.

“Further delays to its introduction is totally at odds with the needs of workers post-pandemic, many of whom have been asked by their employers to work flexibly over the last two years to keep businesses afloat, yet without the same legal rights in return.

“Equally, a failure to introduce the changes leaves those who are pregnant and those who work variable hours vulnerable to the existing gaps in employment law.

“Whilst there is no doubt that most businesses do place great importance on the needs of their staff, there are many that do not. For those workers, of which there are thousands, these reports will come as a bitter blow.”

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