Labour MP: Make flexible working something that ‘everyone has the right to’

A law change is needed so flexible working becomes something that “everyone has the right to”, a Labour MP has said.

Tulip Siddiq told MPs that despite the benefits “there still isn’t a culture of flexible working in this country”.

Speaking in the Commons, the MP for Hampstead and Kilburn said: “We can’t just leave it up to offices to make their own decisions, we’ve got to bring in robust legislation if we actually want to change the culture and if we actually want to bring in some amount of change.”

Since 2020, she said, “only 17%” of jobs advertised have said “you can flexibly work if you apply for this job”, adding: “A third of requests that are made about flexible working are turned down.”

Commuters crossing London Bridge (Yui Mok/PA)
Commuters crossing London Bridge (Yui Mok/PA)

She spoke about the “massive mental health benefits” of flexible working, adding: “Flexible working disproportionately benefits people who are women, people who are disabled, people who are carers, people who are from low-income backgrounds and people from a Bame background because the intolerant office culture still exists.”

While she said she welcomed the Government’s consultation on trying to make flexible working a default, she cautioned such a process “can drag on”.

She said: “We in this Parliament have the privilege of changing the law so that flexible working becomes something that everyone can enjoy and everyone has the right to.”

Ms Siddiq said her Flexible Working Bill would give workers the right to flexible working from the first day of employment except in exceptional circumstances, require employers to offer flexible working arrangements in employment contracts and advertise the available types of such flexibility in vacancy notices.

The Bill, which has cross party support, was listed for a second reading on Friday, November 19, but is unlikely to become law due to a lack of parliamentary time.