HR GUIDE | Flexible working for the care sector

Accommodating flexible working requests can be challenging, but more so, for employers in the care sector.

The nature of the work can mean that workers have different shifts each week, long travel times and unsociable hours. Combined with the fact that the majority of those undertaking care roles are women and they will often be the primary carer at home, they may want to make a flexible working request.

For care employers, this may be tricky. You may want to accommodate their request but are worried about ensuring that there is sufficient cover at all times to ensure high-quality care. You may also be concerned about how to manage employees who are on different arrangements and the fallout that may occur if you accept some requests but reject others.

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

Why flexible working needs to be an option

With the sector experiencing a high employee turnover rate, flexible working arrangements can help you retain your key talent and be highly appealing to job applicants.

When employees are not able to balance their professional and home commitments, this can lead to stress and absences. Allowing employees to have a better work-life balance can help reduce this occurring.

Remember that there are many types of flexible working. While some may not be compatible with the nature of care work, such as home working, there are many different options you can consider, for instance, job sharing. Contact our Care Team, who can help you find the best options to suit you.

Responding to flexible working requests

If an employee makes a formal request for flexible working, employers must consider the request in a reasonable manner and can only refuse a request for a clear business reason, once a fair process has been followed.

The law does not define what is ‘reasonable’, but handling flexible working requests reasonably includes the following actions:

  • Meeting with the employee to discuss it
  • Offering them to be accompanied to the meeting
  • Giving them the opportunity to appeal

It’s important to note that if you do not deal with a request in a reasonable manner, this can form the basis of an Employment Tribunal claim. If an Employment Tribunal finds that a request was not dealt with in a reasonable manner, the Tribunal may order an employer to reconsider the application and pay up to 8 weeks of capped pay.

When you meet with the employee to discuss the request, you should allow them to be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union representative. In the meeting, you can discuss the change, whether there are any issues in accommodating the request, if there are other working patterns which could be explored and the advantages, disadvantages and costs of the change for you.

If you do agree to the change, you should write to the employee to confirm the change and state the start date of the change. You will need to think about whether as a result of the change, you need to amend the employee’s Contract of Employment and this should be done within 28 days after the request was approved.

When you can say no

If you want to reject the application, you should make sure it is for one or more of the following business reasons:

  • the burden of additional costs
  • an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
  • an inability to recruit additional staff
  • detrimental impact on quality
  • damaging impact on performance
  • negative effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
  • a planned structural change to your business.

Although there is no statutory right to an appeal, offering it is a good way to show that you have considered the request in a reasonable way.

Unless agreed otherwise, the application should be dealt with, from start to finish, within a period of three months from first receipt. This includes dealing with any appeals.

If you wish to discuss flexible working further, get in touch with our Care Team who can guide you.

 

Director of Legal Services

James Tamm

Whether you’re facing an immediate challenge or just want the reassurance of an expert second opinion, we’re here to offer clear, commercial advice so that you can focus on what you do best.

Our live Client satisfaction rating is currently:

Last Updated:

Urgent Issue?

Why not take a look through our library of carefully created Employment Law documents and templates to see if we have what you need?

Let's start talking on 0345 226 8393 or complete the form below.

More From EW

Get your FREE download

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.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

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.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

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.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

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.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

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.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

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.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

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.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

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.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

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.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

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.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Combating coronavirus | FREE advice and resources for employers

Our Coronavirus Advice Hub is open now. Get instant access to regularly updated guidance, sample policies, template risk assessments and more.
 
Click to explore what’s available.

Get your FREE download

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.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Get your FREE download

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.

Call us on 0345 226 8393.

Hi, how can we help?
Click the button below to chat to an expert.

Is Your Business Based in Scotland?

Go straight to our free sector-specific Risk Assessment Templates for Scottish organisations…
 
Click to explore what’s available.
Error: Embedded data could not be displayed.
Read our Privacy Policy.