Flexible working: will it be a new law or just a future work perk?

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Could flexible working soon be a law? Stylist catches up with campaigner Anna Whitehouse (aka: Mother Pukka) to find out more. 

How are you finding working from home during lockdown? Perhaps you’ve settled nicely into this new way of working, or maybe you’re dreaming of chats by the watercooler with colleagues. Either way, it’s time to admit: this pandemic is going to change the way we work in the future. 

In fact, with a recent report in The Telegraph detailing how government officials have raised the issue of enshrining a right to work from home in law as part of easing lockdown – WFH could soon be a legal right for employees. 

Anna Whitehouse, founder of parenting platform Mother Pukka, has been campaigning for flexible working rights since long before lockdown. She is the woman behind the Flex For All campaign for flexible working to be the norm in all jobs in the UK. That’s why she was the perfect guest to get more details from on this week’s Working from Home with Stylist podcast episode.

She updated editor-in-chief Lisa Smosarski on what’s happening with this potential new law, and explained why it’s so important to take note of. 

“Enforced remote working, which we’re currently in, is not effective flexible working,” says Whitehouse. “But what it has done on a legal and human level is open up the conversation around what can we do post-lockdown to ensure this momentum continues on flexibility in terms of working anywhere and everywhere. 

“That’s what talks happening in Whitehall are about – putting the onus on the employer to prove that a job cannot be done remotely.”

Working from home: Anne Whitehouse from Mother Pukka shares her insight on flexible working law changes.

Explaining what this change could look like, Whitehouse continues: “If I put in a flexible working request or a remote working request – you have to prove from a business perspective that I cannot do my job anywhere but in the office. 

“People who perhaps wouldn’t come under this law are [for example] scientists, who would need a lab. But as a journalist, I would say I want to work two or three days from home. It’s now been proven it’s possible on a technical level. The employer now can’t say no to me because I can take my laptop and do my job from home.”

“The current legislation that’s being pushed through Whitehall at the moment is really centred on shifting the narrative from it being on the employee’s perspective – from us having to prove that we can work.

She adds: “I think the business reasons for declining any kind of request pre-lockdown were completely set up to fail. It was very easy for a business to say ‘no, that’s not going to happen’. So that’s what we’re going to be seeing: a shift to the other side. That partners with the big drive we were pushing pre-lockdown, before we were working in the context of a pandemic.”

You can listen to the full interview on this week’s Working from Home with Stylist episode.

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…