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Government previously rejected ‘right to work from home’ for disabled people (UK)

0 6 months ago

Exclusive: Jeremy Hunt’s calls for disabled people to find remote jobs come after government limited flexible work

The government ignored calls to give disabled people the right to work from home two years ago, openDemocracy can reveal.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt today announced that people who are unable to work because of mobility or mental health problems will be told to find remote jobs or could face losing their benefits.

But disability groups and unions told openDemocracy that “there are nowhere near enough” remote jobs available – in part because the government previously refused advice that disabled people should be given a right to flexible working.

In 2021, the government launched a consultation over its Flexible Working Act. Charities including Disability Rights UK have told open. Democracy that they advised the government that its proposals were too weak to help disabled people find remote work – but ministers did not listen.

Just 5% of respondents said people should not have an automatic right to flexible working. The government ignored this guidance, ruling that employees should instead be given a right to request flexible working – but no guarantee that this request would be granted.

In its response to the consultation, the government acknowledged that it received a survey, commissioned by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), with more than 5,500 responses suggesting “that the present approach makes it too easy for an employer to turn down a flexible working request”.

The Treasury and the Department of Work and Pensions have been approached for comment.

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