Changes that extended the right to request flexible working came into force on 30th June 2014. Previously, employers were only obliged to consider flexible working requests from employees who have children under 17 or those who have responsibility for caring. Any employee who has been employed by a business for 26 weeks or more can now request a change to their working hours.
Many small businesses will already be familiar with these requests and where feasible, are considered to be a standard expectation from an employer.
However, businesses are likely to face a change in the type of request they get after the end of this month. Having been used to requests from working parents in response to childcare needs, businesses are now likely to see requests from younger employees. Generation Y in particular, view their social and business networks as one and as such, are likely to push for flexible working to allow them to maintain their lifestyles and fulfil their employment obligations.
Research carried out in 2012 from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) concluded that nearly half of workers (46%) across a wide span of ages said they would want to take up the offer of flexible working.
There are many positives to the extension of this scheme:-
- Any flexible working offered by employers will be seen favourably by existing employees, who are likely to remain in a company that allows them to work in a way that suits their needs;
- Small businesses who aren’t able to compete on salary and company perks will be able to use this flexible working approach to aid retention and recruitment;
- It also has benefits for the employer who will consider the request and notify the employee of the outcome within 3 months, compared to a protracted application and appeals process previously.
With this change, comes all manner of potential new working patterns for a business to accommodate:-
- Job sharing
- Working from home
- Part time
- Compressed hours
- Annualised hours
- Staggered hours
How can your business accommodate these requests alongside your business demands?
Make access to work as easy as possible for employees – utilise mobile business solutions at your disposal. As well as assisting your employees with their work/life balance, being able to manage your business any where, any time can give you the edge on your competitors too.
Try to maintain communication and teamwork is vital when staff are working so many different hours – try and encourage one fixed day or time per week when all staff can meet and catch up.
Take advantage of the staff being more productive in the hours they are in – especially if there are no longer issues relating to commuting during busy times – your business can benefit from this.
Now might be the time to embrace Cloud – this will be a vital tool for those businesses who want to introduce effective flexible working without it affecting productivity. With remote access to company data crucial for companies across the UK, Cloud gives your business the ability to continue working towards your goals without the need for prohibitive upfront IT investment.
Set up regular reviews to ensure that the flexible working is still of benefit to both parties, if not, perhaps agree up front, to revert back to normal hours.
Encourage give and take on both sides to accommodate the flexible working request – with both negotiation and attention to detail, flexible working could be the best thing for your future growth.
ACAS have produced a guide for employers on how to handle flexible working requests in your business, click here.
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