Government’s Right to Request Remote Working Bill is toothless

Senator Marie Sherlock
25 January 2022

Responding to the publication this evening of the Government’s heads of bill on the right to request flexible working, Labour’s employment affairs spokesperson Marie Sherlock called the bill toothless and a real set back to any plans to promote flexible working in this country.

Senator Sherlock said:

“It is telling that of the 19 heads of bill, most of the detail relates to the 13 grounds upon which an employer can reject a request to remote working. The very broad and sweeping nature of these grounds means that the Government has stacked the odds very firmly in favour of employers.

“Over recent days, Government has tried to assure us that an employee’s right to request flexible work would be backed up by a strong right to appeal. This evening we learn that workers will only be able to appeal the process and not the decision of the employer itself.

“Head 13 of the Bill only gives workers the right to appeal if an employer fails to give a decision or fails to provide the grounds for the decision, but it is set out in crystal clear terms that the workers cannot appeal the “substance or merit” of the employer’s decision.

“For workers, this draft legislation is meaningless and it is shocking how much the Government is lacking in ambition with regard to flexible work.”

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