Three-quarters of older workers are unaware of “day one” flexible working rights

Timewise research shows that 72% of older workers have not heard about the proposed law, which is expected to come into force next year.

flexible working guide


Three-quarters of workers over 50 are unaware of the “day one” flexible working rights that are expected to come into force next year, new research shows.

The survey by Timewise, a social enterprise that advises companies on flexible working, found that 72% of workers over 50 had not heard about the proposed rights. All other age groups showed a higher awareness of the new law – only 49% of workers aged 18-24 had not heard about it. 

The government has proposed legislation that would give employees the right to request flexible working from “day one” – under the current rules they must be in a job for at least six months. Ministers hope the new law, which is making its way through parliament, will take effect at some point next year.

Flexible working – a category that includes working from home, part-time roles, job-shares and compressed hours – has long been seen as an issue for parents, particularly mothers. But several recent pieces of research have shown that it is becoming a priority for all workers, and it is a major factor in keeping older people in the workforce.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of people over 50 said greater flexible working would make them consider staying in work beyond retirement, or returning to work if they were already retired,’s annual survey found last year. Almost half (45%) said flexible working was a deal-breaker in a job. A smaller snap poll by, out today, shows a similar interest in flexible working. 

The government is yet to clearly define “day one”, creating an area of uncertainty for both employers and employees. It is not yet known if workers will need to make requests when applying for a role, or when they accept a job offer, or if they will not need to mention anything until their first day on the job. 

‘Employers need to get on the front foot’

The Timewise survey found that, once people had been briefed on the proposed new rules, almost half (49%) said they would consider requesting flexible working on “day one” of a new job. This suggests that employers will see a surge in requests as and when the law takes effect. 

Timewise said employers had to start preparing now for the forecast rise in requests. Yet almost half (49%) of employers are not even aware of the legislation, according to a CIPD survey published last month. 

“[Our research] suggests that groups of workers are unhappy with their current working arrangements and are highly likely to utilise their newly-gained rights to improve their situation,” Sarah Dauncey, head of partnerships at Timewise, said in a statement.

“Employers need to take heed to get on the front foot, ensuring that all workers have a degree of autonomy and control over their working patterns.”

Under the new law, employers would also have to respond to flexible working requests within two months, instead of the current three months. Employees will no longer have to propose ways for their employer to mitigate any impacts of their requested working pattern.


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