On 30 June 2021, a Private Members’ Bill was introduced to Parliament that would give the right for an employee to request to work flexibly from day 1 of employment. Employers would have to include this in employment contracts and ensure that those future job vacancies advertised display flexibility was available. Currently, in both Great Britain and Northern Ireland, employees must have worked for an employer for 26 weeks before making an application to work flexibly.
The Bill was introduced under the ‘Ten-Minute Rule’ by Tulip Siddiq, Member of Parliament (MP) for Hampstead and Kilburn. When introduced, this is known as the ‘first reading’ which is a formality that takes place without debate. Following the actual reading, the Bill is then published as a House of Commons paper and scheduled for a second reading which is on 19 November 2021. This is the first opportunity that MPs will have to debate the general principles and themes of the Bill.
Employers might want to monitor the progress of the Bill on the House of Commons Website.
However, there are two issues that spring to mind before employers get too worried about changes to policies and procedures:
This will be a piece of employment law. However, employment law is a devolved issue to Northern Ireland. Therefore, for this to apply UK-wide, Northern Ireland would have to mirror this legislation. The current right to request to work flexibly was not brought in at the same time, with Great Britain’s effective date in June 2014 and Northern Ireland’s in April 2015.
It is important for HR professionals to remember that we are one United Kingdom but not when it comes to employment law purposes.
The Ten-Minute Rule?
The Bill has been introduced under the Ten-Minute Rule for Private Members, i.e. MPs who are not ministers. As the name suggests, Private Members (of Parliament) are given ten minutes to outline their opinion on a subject, expressing this in a form of a Bill. It is often a way for raising the profile of an issue rather than a serious attempt to get the legislation in place.
However, if there is significant support, especially from the UK Government, this may find its way into legislation but it is unlikely it will be via the Private Member’s Bill. Although, The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 came about as a result of a Private Member’s Bill, so this is still one to watch for.
Ian Holloway is a highly respected payroll practitioner, writer, advisor and trainer. He has worked in the payroll profession for over 30 years and is now Payroll Consultant at i-Realise, an independent change management business operating in the HR & payroll space.
Ian has hands-on experience processing payrolls from all sectors, large and small. In 2011 he shifted focus to his passion for educating the profession and also worked on improving payroll software solutions to meet legislative requirements and business goals. He is the Trailblazer Chair for the Level 3 Payroll Administrator Apprenticeship and the Level 5 Payroll Assistant Manager Apprenticeship. He also advises on the practical impacts of new government legislation.
As Payroll Consultant at i-Realise, Ian’s broad experience and up-to-date knowledge allows him to publish insights to UK HR & Payroll professionals through workshops, white papers, newsletters and face-to-face presentations. Ian regularly speaks at industry conferences and is a featured writer for several Payroll, HR and Finance publications. Ian leads i-Realise’s monthly payroll forum, a confidential platform for in-house payroll leaders and managers to discuss new legislation and collectively improve best practice.
You can contact Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org