News | 15 Apr 2024

New UK flexible working law comes into effect

New legislation has come into force across the UK, giving employees more flexibility around where and when they work. Changes that Vodafone has already been practicing for years.

At Vodafone, we recognise that full-time working is not right for everyone. This could be a personal choice, the result of additional responsibilities as a carer, health issues or various other reasons personal to that individual.

Importantly, we don’t think any of these should act as a barrier to work. We also want to ensure that we are encouraging all talent to join Vodafone, which is why we are in support of the new Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act.

As recently as 2023, only 31% of jobs were overtly being advertised as flexible. The new act, however, provides all employees across the UK with the right to request reasonable flexible working from their first day of employment.

While requests remain subject to business approval, previously, employees were only eligible if they had worked for their employer for 26 weeks or more. Now, they have the right to two separate requests each year, with employers having to respond within two months. A timeframe that previously stood at three months.

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Vodafone UK’s stance on flexible working

Vodafone UK has supported these flexible working principles for a while. We therefore welcome the new Act, and hope it helps all organisations to have the right conversations with their employees.

In April 2023, for instance, we removed our initial requirement of employees needing a two-year length of service to request changes to their working schedule.

Since then, the company has granted staff the right to request a flexible working arrangement from day one, and up to twice in a 12-month period.

In doing so, Vodafone UK has remained in line with the statutory requirements surrounding flexible working – both previously and since the new bill came into effect on 6 April 2024.

Vodafone UK’s stance on hybrid working

When it comes to working from home, we believe in the power of hybrid working, so have built flexibility into our model with eight days in the office each month.

To ensure we come together for connection, working sessions and learning moments, we allow employees to plan days in the office around what is most valuable to them, while balancing their out-of-work commitments.

Since connectivity and comfort are important factors for hybrid working, we have also developed “Office In A Box”. This set of accessories and furniture makes switching between home and office-based working as smooth as possible, with employees able to request a monitor, desk, chair lamp, foot stool and laptop riser for their home-working location.

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Employee programmes and policies

A wide range of policies exist for Vodafone employees beyond flexible and hybrid working, all designed to help each individual thrive during their time at the company.

All of which are inclusive, applying to everyone at Vodafone UK – no matter their age, disability, gender, race, religion, belief or sexual orientation.

  • Menopause: Employees experiencing the menopause can take leave for sickness and medical treatment, opt for flexible working, and access support through our Employee Assistance Programme. Alongside an eLearning training and awareness programme, Vodafone has also partnered with MenoHealth, supporting employees with monthly sessions run by specialists.
  • Domestic violence and abuse: Colleagues can access support and specialist counselling, as well as up to 10 days additional paid leave that can be used for anything related to their situation – from legal attendings to medical appointments. Training is also offered to HR, line managers and other staff to help support those affected by domestic abuse.
  • Parenting: All primary carers, whether it is the birthing partner, the primary carer in an adoption or a parent through surrogacy, are eligible to receive a total value of 26 weeks’ full pay (paid over a 39-week period). Meanwhile, any non-birthing partner or secondary carer can take up to 16 weeks’ paid leave within the first 18 months of doing so. On return, both primary and secondary carers can then work 80% of their hours, for six months, at full pay.
  • Working abroad: Employees can work abroad throughout the year, thanks to our ‘20 days working from overseas’ policy, which allows staff to blend work and travel flexibly.

This list is certainly not exhaustive and we are always looking to improve our working policies and practices. Our recent term-time working trial, for instance, explores how best we can help parents spend more time with their children, without sacrificing their career.

Find out more about working at Vodafone UK. And stay up to date with the latest news from Vodafone by following us on Twitter  and signing up for News Centre website notifications.