The anatomy of a flexible working policy

Do you receive requests for flexible working and do you know how to handle them?

The first things you need to do are ensure that you understand the statutory rights of employees and your obligations, then put a clear and robust policy in place.

It may not be a legal requirement, but there are two key benefits to having a written policy on flexible working. Firstly, it gives you the chance to clearly communicate your expectations to employees, setting out the rules and standards. Secondly, the policy sets out the steps which managers need to take. Adopting one standard and approach to deal with all requests means that there is consistency and less likelihood of claims of, for example, discrimination.

[infobox]Exclusive bonus:Get the free Employer’s Definitive Guide to Flexible Working to discover how to stay on the right side of the law when handling flexible working requests.Download Now[/infobox]

 Contents of the policy

The first point to note is that there is no policy that fits all companies.

Depending on the nature and size of your business, it may not always be suitable to allow all forms of flexible working. For example, employers in manufacturing, retail, health care or security, may have roles that require face-to-face contact, physical presence in the workplace or handling specialist equipment. These types of jobs do not lend themselves to home working for instance. Therefore you need to consider what works best for your organisation.

In general terms, your flexible working policy should include the following:

  • Eligibility requirements
  • Limits on how many requests per year
  • What the requests should include
  • What happens when a request is received
  • Who can accompany the employee into the meeting to discuss the request
  • Reasons why a request may be rejected
  • Any time limits when dealing with requests.

Making employees aware

Make sure all your employees know where they can the access the policy. The policy may be found in a company document that is reasonably accessible to the employee, such as the Employee Handbook or on the intranet.

It is good practice to get your employees to sign a receipt that shows they have read and understood the policy. Employees cannot then get away with saying things such as “I didn’t know I had to submit the request like that” or “I didn’t realise that those were the eligibility conditions.”

Make sure you train your managers

Having a written policy is great, but it must be complemented by a pro-active and effective management approach. Make sure your managers receive adequate training to understand the contents in the policy and know how to handle requests in a reasonable and timely fashion.

What can we do for you?

If you don’t have a policy in place, our Employment Law Advisers can draft one for you. Our Advisers will be able to draft documents to ensure that you are complying with the law and protecting your organisation’s best interests.

Our Employment Law Advisers will also be on hand to provide you with support if you are facing a specific issue in your workplace. Your nominated Adviser will learn about your organisation and the way you work and will be familiar with other employers in your sector so you will benefit from their experience of implementing best practice in other organisations.

Want to find out more?

[infobox]Exclusive bonus:Get the free Definitive Employer’s Guide to Flexible Working, which gives you a comprehensive overview, including examples of flexible working, what can be requested, how the employee should make their application, whether you should allow appeals and much, much more.Download Now[/infobox]

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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