HR GUIDE | Flexible Working – making it work for your business

Some surveys have shown that employees will turn down a job because it offers no flexible working.

In fact, it is now considered one of the most prized benefits to have, especially amongst millennials.

Some employers have been slow to embrace flexible working arrangements. They fail to see the advantages, think it will have a negative effect on their business. In addition, they may be concerned about the impact it will have on other employees.

But by resisting change, are these employers missing a very important trick?

In many cases, the answer is yes.      

It can be hard for employers to attract prospective employees with the right skills and experience, so flexible working can be a good way to attract a wide pool of candidates. It can also help current employees who without some flexibility would be forced to resign.

When employees cannot balance their professional and home commitments, this can lead to absences. In turn this can put lots of pressure on colleagues who are forced to pick up the outstanding work.

In some cases, flexible working can help you save. Rather than digging deep into your budget to get extra office space, you could let some of your employees work from home.

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What are the different types of flexible working?

Employers often think that flexible working is really just part-time work or working from home, but there are various forms of flexible working businesses could consider, including:

  • Flexitime – Typically employees will have core hours, for example 9.30am to 3.30pm, when they must work, but they have the flexibility to decide when they work the other hours to best suit them.
  • Staggered hours –This allows employees to start and finish at different times.
  • Job sharing This is when two, or sometimes more, colleague share one role. They both do the same job, but they split the hours.
  • Compressed hours – This allows people to work their set amount of hours in fewer days. A common example is an employee work full-time hours over a four day week.
  • Annualised hours – The employee must work a given amount of hours over the course of the year, but they have the flexibility to arrange these hours as they wish. This means that their hours can vary each week.
  • Term-time working – Term-time working allows employees to cut down on the hours they work or allows them to take time off during school holidays. Find out more here.

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Making flexible working for your business

Employees with 26 continuous weeks of service with their employer do have a statutory right to request flexible working. They can only make one statutory request per 12 month period.

When you receive an application which fulfils these requirements, you must consider the request in a reasonable and timely manner. You can only refuse a request for a stated business reason. But even if a member of staff is not eligible to make a statutory request, it is beneficial to consider whether you can accommodate their informal application to retain your talent.

The nature of your business and of the employee’s role means that you cannot offer every flexible working option under the sun. However, if you can’t compromise on location, you may be able to be more flexible on working time. Or vice versa.

Contact your Ellis Whittam Employment Law Adviser who can guide you.