Should work from home be a rights issue now that it is apparent that it does not hamper daily workload? The issue has sparked a debate in the UK. It was reported earlier by a daily that Downing Street was drawing up a blueprint to give workers the right to work from home and to make it illegal to force them back to office. The government has denied the report. It is, however, proceeding with a less comprehensive shift towards flexible work in future. The government asked people to work from home where possible during the pandemic but said that it will not be a permanent arrangement.
Employees in the country already have the right to request flexible working if they have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks. UK ministers, as mentioned in a report in the Financial Times, are considering lowering the threshold to include recent joinees.
According to the government, part-time work, flexitime and work from home are part of what the government defines as flexible work.
However, it is yet to be decided what would be considered a 'good reason' for employers to reject work from home requests.
Trades Union Congress said requests should be refused only in exceptional circumstances. But employers want managers to have the flexibility to refuse unviable requests.
Companies want flexible working but want the final decision to be left to the employee rather than the government, the daily stated. UK Management Consultancies Association chief executive Tamzen Isaacson said that flexible working is here to stay but needs to be coupled with client requirements.
A government task force has been set up to urge companies not to discriminate between office-going and working-from-home staff. It has been consulting with business leaders and trade unions to agree on the official guidance.
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