Flexible working bill: A step towards a more inclusive future

Kat Nicholls
By Kat Nicholls,
updated on Jul 19, 2023

Mother hugging child in front of computer

After seven years of campaigning, the founder of Mother Pukka Anna Whitehouse celebrates the flexible working bill becoming law

Whether you need to start and finish work earlier to make school pick-up time or work from home to help you manage a chronic illness – there’s always been a case for more flexible approaches at work.

It’s sad that for many companies it took a global pandemic for them to recognise the sky wouldn’t fall if employees worked from home, yet here we are, post-pandemic, with the workplace landscape drastically shifted. While some organisations are clawing their way back to old ways, campaigners like author Anna Whitehouse never gave up the fight for more flexible working.

Launching the platform Mother Pukka and flexible working campaign Flex Appeal in 2015, Anna saw the need for change.

“Pay inequality and the gender pay gap mean men still generally earn more than women, so women have been expected to scale back their work to pick up the domestic load.” Anna tells Stylist.

“If flexibility was normalised, more women could maintain their careers after having kids – helping close the gender pay gap.”

The Flex Appeal campaign asked for the right to choose when and how we work, helping us all be happier chickens.

In the TED X talk below, Anna and Matt Farquharson share more on how to be a happier chicken.

Over the weekend, Anna shared some incredible news on Instagram - that the flexible working bill has passed its third reading in the House of Lords and will become law. Detailing what this means in the Instagram caption, Anna shares the following:

  • All workers will be given the legal right to request flexible working from day one.
  • Employers will have to prove it won’t work to deny, instead of the employee having to prove it will.
  • Workers will get two chances each year to put in a request for flexible working (instead of one).
  • Employers will have to respond to the request within two months (instead of the current vague ‘whenever suits’).
  • Employers will have to consult you if they decline your request, explaining why.

Anna notes that the only job they believe can’t be done flexibly (core hours, job shares, ward-less rostering, part-time, working from home, compressed hours) is an oil rig.

Anna goes on to thank supporters and fellow campaigners, including Working Families, Pregnant Then Screwed and Maternity Action, while highlighting that there is still much work to be done.

Here at Happiful, we are thrilled at the step this is helping us all take towards a more equal and inclusive society.

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