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Back to school … Handling flexible working requests

You have been asked by an employee if they can start working flexible hours to help manage their childcare arrangements. Do you know what to do? Are you taking advantage of flexible working and the benefits for not only your employees but for your business also? In today’s society the need for flexibility has never been greater and employees have many competing responsibilities in their lives.

What is flexible working?
The CIPD describes ‘flexible working’ as a type of working arrangement which gives a degree of flexibility on how long, where, when and at what times employees work.

What flexible working can look like?
• Reduced working hours.
• Compressed hours- working usual hours in fewer and/or longer days.
• Part time working.
• Job sharing- sharing the responsibility of a full time position.
• Term time working- reducing hours or taking time off during school holidays.
• Working from home- advances in technology make it simpler to keep in touch.
• Flexitime- usually adopting a core hours’ approach.

Benefits
The CIPD, following their research regarding flexible working, indicate the direct benefits for a business are associated with real estate due to remote working and hot desking arrangements. Indirect benefits fall under the psychological contract where employees may be more emotionally engaged with the business.
Other benefits can include;
• Attracting and retaining employees is key for businesses and flexible working has become high on the agenda.
• Promoting the benefits internally as well as externally will increase company profile and brand within the market. Being an employer of choice!
• Reduction of absence, sickness and stress levels.
• A more efficient and productive organisation.

Managing flexible workers
• Management play a critical role and must ensure that it should be more about performance and outcomes rather than presenteeism.
• Training for management to understand the benefits of flexible working can bring to an organisation.
• Set clear objectives and expectations.
• Trust is key and managers need to trust employees and employees need to feel trusted.

Statutory process
Effective from 30 June 2014 the flexible working law changed whereby anyone who has 26 weeks length of service has the statutory right to make a flexible working request, it is not limited to those with children.
The employee needs to make a request in writing, stating what they want to change and how they think it could affect the business. The employee must state whether they have made a flexible working request before and the date of that application.
Acas advise that employers are to consider the employees request for flexible working in a reasonable manner. It is advisable to arrange a meeting with the employee once the request has been made to discuss the details. Ensure that this meeting is dealt with like any other management conversation, in a confidential manner. However, if the employer is happy to accept the request a meeting may not always be needed. The employer must also confirm the decision as soon as possible to the employee of the outcome of the request. The law requires the process to be completed within three months of the request being received, this includes any appeals.
Employers can only refuse a flexible working request for the following reasons;
• the burden of additional costs
• an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
• an inability to recruit additional staff
• a detrimental impact on quality
• a detrimental impact on performance
• detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
• insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
• a planned structural changes to the business.
Wherever possible it is advisable to reach an agreement on flexible working within the workplace. Contact one of our Employment Lawyers for further guidance!

Challenges
• Increase administration in terms of record keeping
• The risk of being under staffed at certain points of the working day.
• In terms of job sharing there may be two lots of administration, induction and recruitment costs.
• Working longer hours may cause fatigue and increased absence.
• If not fully implemented effectively, benefits are not fully gained.

Review and guide
• Employers are to review existing policies and procedures to ensure that it accomodates any flexible working practices in place.
• Review absence and engagement levels to see what the impact of flexible working arrangements has had on the business find more information.
• Train managers on how to manage flexible working requests and treat employees fairly in the process.

Managing flexible working can be a complex process and we would always recommend you seek guidance on managing this. For further information or if you want to discuss a current issue please contact us [email protected] or 0161 478 3800.


Back to school … Handling flexible working requests

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