The promotion of flexible working can increase employee motivation, performance and productivity and encourages employee retention by enabling employees to balance their work life with other priorities. The ability to work within a pattern and at hours which suits the individual will undoubtedly help to improve wellbeing and reduce stress caused by conflicting priorities and the overwhelm of having to fit so much into a busy lifestyle.
Flexible working covers work arrangements where employees are given greater freedom in how and when they will fulfil the obligations of their core role or duties.
Some of the ways to achieve flexible working are as follows:-
- Part Time Hours – reduced hours to allow more time off. For example (school hours or term time working).
- Compressed hours – Working the same number of hours but over fewer days or with a different number of hours on different days.
- Working from Home – Working away from the main place of work whilst carrying out the same duties.
- Job Sharing – Where two people do the same job, sharing the hours.
- Annualised Hours – Working a certain number of hours over the year, with some flexibility about when they work. Typically to meet seasonal demands at work.
- Phased decrease in hours – Where the hours are reduced over a period of time. (typically for those preparing for retirement).
- Flexitime – Flexible start and end times, with parameters or core hours.
The Legal Position
Flexible working relates to a permanent change of pattern to working which is deemed to be a formal change to terms and conditions of employment.
All employees with a qualifying period of 26 weeks service and who have not made a previous request with the last 12 months have the statutory right to apply for a change to their working hours. It may be that the individual wishes to work part time, they may want to alter their hours to accommodate other external priorities, to avoid traffic, to allow them more time off when then need it or any other reason which is personal to them.
An employer must seriously consider any request which is received and decide if it is feasible or operationally possible. That does not mean that the request has to automatically granted, in fact, an employer can refuse the request on the following grounds:-
- The burden of additional costs
- Any detrimental effect it would have on the Company’s ability to meet customer demand
- The Company’s inability to reorganise work amongst existing employees
- The Company’s inability to recruit additional employees
- Any detrimental impact it would have on quality
- The detrimental effect it would have on performance
- Insufficiency of work available during the period when you propose to work.
- Any company planned structural changes.
Each request for flexible working received should be dealt with individually, taking into account the likely effects the changes will have on the Company, the work of the department where the employee works, other employees and colleagues and the particular circumstances of the case.
The granting of flexible working arrangements to one employee does not automatically mean that subsequent requests from other employees can be accommodated. Granting one request does not set a precedent for other employees, however, employers will need to make sure that they consider all options in attempting to accommodate a request.
There are so many benefits for employers and employees around flexible working, not least for work-life balance, culture and increased loyalty from staff, it makes sense to grant requests wherever possible.