New rules came into force on Monday 30 June meaning all employees with 26 weeks or more service will be allowed to request flexible working. Employers in turn must address requests in a "reasonable manner".
Such schemes have some great benefits but they do require careful planning. Here's a quick at-a-glance guide to help get you started.
1) What is flexible working?
It is a variation of an employee’s working pattern, such as working from home, part-time working, flexi-time, job sharing and shift working.
2) Who can ask for it?
All employees with 26 weeks or more service are allowed to ask to work flexibly, until now, they only had the right if they had children under 17 (or 18 if they have a disability) or if they cared for an adult dependant.
3) Do you have to agree to it?
Employers are required to consider requests objectively and in a "reasonable manner". There are eight business reasons an employer can use for rejecting a request, including:
- The burden of additional costs
- An inability to meet customer demand
- An inability to reorganise work or
- An inability to recruit new staff.
- Hold a meeting with the employee to discuss their request in good time
- Communicate the decision to them within 3 months
- Provide clear business reasons for any rejection
4) Are there any benefits to your business?
There are several really great business reasons to consider requests to work flexibly with open arms including:
- Increased job satisfaction and productivity
- Lower costs
- Reduced travelling time and costs
- Improved retention and recruitment
- Reduced absenteeism
- Retention of experience
5) Popular types of scheme
In our experience as a time and attendance software supplier the most popular types of scheme are:
- Working from home
- Term-time working
- Staggered hours
- Annualised hours
- Compressed working hours
- Shift working
6) The preparation you’ll need to do
When introducing any sort of change in the workplace consultation is absolutely key, to make sure that what you are considering will be valued and is workable. You might want to consider the following:
- Conducting an employee survey
- Managing change
- A trial period
- Investing in technology
- The effect on your HR and Payroll departments
- Your competitors
- The impact on clients and suppliers
- Health and safety implications
- Legal considerations
- Ongoing review