The Government is being urged to bring forward the Employment Bill which would include new protections for those on maternity leave and an option to maintain flexible working after the pandemic.
The Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech in December 2019 and key changes included the right to a more predictable and stable work contract and extended redundancy protection for people on maternity leave. However, the Bill was not mentioned during the Queen’s Speech this year.
Calls have been growing for the Bill to be progressed through Parliament and there is no doubt that the pandemic has made some of the proposed changes even more relevant, particularly in respect of flexible working. The Government’s own Flexible Working Task Force has said flexible working should be offered to all workers to avoid what it calls a “two-tier workforce” and to recognise the wellbeing benefits it can bring.
At present, flexible working can be requested by an employee with over 26 weeks of continuous service. Employers have the right to refuse requests on a number of fronts such as additional costs and a detrimental impact on quality, performance or ability to meet customer demand.
Unless legislation is forthcoming, the Great Return that we have talked about so much in our recent articles, could prompt a great exodus of talent.