Everything you need to know about the UK's new Flexible Working Bill

Flexible working concept image showing man working at a kitchen table in his home.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

New UK legislation means that workers can now ask for flexible working arrangements from day one, and research shows those in the know plan to do so in droves.

Until now, workers have had to wait until they've been in the job for six months before asking to work flexibly. However, with the Flexible Working Bill, due to come into effect on 6 April, staff will be able to do this from the first day they're in employment - although they'll have to make a formal request.

A recent survey from Slack shows a strong appetite for flexible working among employees across the UK, with more than half (55%) of workers planning to request these arrangements.

Already, 56% of UK employees regularly work from home, with 43% having flexible working days and three-in-ten working a four-day week.

Meanwhile, 70% of workers are more likely to apply for a job based on the company’s flexible working policy - increasing to 76% for those aged between 18 and 34.

Three-quarters of workers told Slack they would be comfortable asking for flexible hours, with seven-in-ten comfortable asking to work from home and two-thirds to ask for compressed hours.

Working outside the UK was perceived as a bigger ask, however, with just 45% comfortable to do so. Similarly, only 40% felt happy asking for a job share and a third to work a four-day week.

"The way we work, and employees’ expectations about work, have fundamentally changed over the past few years and flexibility is a key part of that," said Chris Mills, global head of customer success at Slack.

"The research shows it’s an important consideration for people today, and the Flexible Working Bill has brought it back into focus for employees and management."

Employers aren't convinced about flexible working

Eight-in-ten workers said they believe the ability to work flexibly boosts their productivity, with three quarters saying it will help their company grow more quickly. 

More than eight-in-ten workers revealed technology is an enabler of productive flexible working, rising to 95% for employees who work from home. Almost three-quarters noted that flexible working is possible thanks to communication and collaboration tools.

However, the main reasons workers believe that their employers have turned down requests for flexible work are concerns that it could negatively impact productivity and work quality levels, both cited by 17%.

Unfortunately for workers, employers are indeed dubious about granting flexible working requests.


The survey found that 57% are concerned about receiving new and more requests for flexible working. Additionally, more than 70% of businesses have not yet proactively shared information on the latest rules with their employees.

"Success hinges on more than just granting employees the freedom to work when and where they want," Mills said.

"It requires creating intentional in-person moments alongside thoughtful approaches to technology that enables seamless collaboration, connection and access to information."

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.