In recent years, more and more employees are looking for more flexible work. You may have employees approach you to request flexible working hours, or potential employees looking for flexible working arrangements whilst they are in the recruitment phase. Although many employees are looking into flexible working, it may not be feasible for your business...
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In recent years, more and more employees are looking for more flexible work.
You may have employees approach you to request flexible working hours, or potential employees looking for flexible working arrangements whilst they are in the recruitment phase.
Although many employees are looking into flexible working, it may not be feasible for your business to offer flexible working. Areas of employment law can make flexible working tricky to navigate.
In this article, we are going to cover what flexible working is, how your employees can request it, and how you can refuse and handle requests. If you need immediate advice get in touch with one of our experts here.
Flexible working is an alternative to the traditional working hours (9 am to 5 pm). But it’s not limited to just the hours that an employee can work, but where they can work – such as remote working.
Essentially flexible working gives your employees more control over what hours they work and is an effective way for employers to put their employees first.
As we’ve mentioned, flexible working isn’t limited to only remote working, but there are other ways you can implement flexible working into your workplace. Here are some of the methods that you can implement.
If you decide to implement any one of these new working pattern types into your business, then you need to agree with your employee first. You can do this through a flexible working contract that will outline what your employees can do and how they can work.
Implementing a flexible working model into your business can have significant benefits for your business, we’ve collected a few of them together for you.
This can be considered the most important benefit for employers. In a commitment. This mentally can help build a positive company culture and will help your business reduce the amount you spend on recruitment and training.
If your employees aren’t stressed about work, or overworked they are likely to be more productive while they’re at work. It’s also likely to reduce the amount of sick days an employee takes, flexible working will promote a better work-life balance, which will help the morale and productivity of your team.
Flexible working is an attractive benefit for potential employees. Listing it in your job description can help you find the right candidate sooner. This also opens up your talent pool to more people, as prospective employees are more likely to prioritise businesses that offer flexible working.
If your business implements a flexible working policy, you can extend your business’s working hours. This will allow you to let your employees work hours that suit them, and help you better satisfy your clients and meet customer demand.
As with anything, there is always a disadvantage. It’s up to you and your business to decide whether the benefits outweigh the negatives.
If you’ve got employees working from home, they may need extra supervision to ensure that they are remaining productive.
When employees are making requests to work from home or other flexible working arrangements, you should treat everyone fairly. if you don’t the employee could raise a discrimination claim.
A flexible working policy sets out your business’s position on flexible working.
There are a few things that you need to include in your flexible working policy, they are:
We’ll go into detail about each of these sections a little further. But you should start your policy with a small introduction to what the policy is.
For example, you could use:
Employer Advice recognises that many of our employees have responsibilities outside of work. To help you meet the obligations, we are accepting flexible working requests via the HR department.
If you would like to submit a request, download the form, or ask your line manager for a copy of the request form.
Fill out your details and submit them to your line manager. Each request will be given full consideration and discussed with you. The wider needs of the business will be taken into account when assessing the suitability of your request.
Ensure to edit it where necessary.
You should clearly state who the eligible employees are. This section can include if you want employees to work a certain time period on-site before they can put in a request for flexible working.
Employees who make a flexible working application can only do so every twelve months, you should include what kind of change they can request.
If you have employees who want to change their working hours, you should outline the restrictions in this section. This could include if you require employees to be in the office on a certain day of the week.
You can outline if employees can change when they start and finish work. This needs to be made clear in the policy.
If you allow your employees to work remotely you should state how often you’ll be keeping in touch with them and how. This can include how you will be conducting meetings, this could be via video call, phone calls or by using other methods.
Make sure your employees are aware of who it is they need to contact, if there is an emergency. (This is important in cases of lone workers).
This section of the policy should outline who is required to travel or work at different places. You may need to consider this in your business expenses.
Likewise, if you need to supply your employees with special equipment. This section should outline the amount of the expense, and explain who will pay for it and how.
Use this policy to include how your business will support your employees. Your employees who are working remotely may go for prolonged periods of time without talking to anyone. This can start to affect their overall wellbeing.
You can use tools such as an employee assistance programme (EAP) to help your employees or share wellbeing tips with them to help improve their wellbeing.
some of your employees may already work abroad remotely as part of their job, in these instances, your policy should cover the terms of this arrangement. It’s important to outline the terms of this in the flexible working policy.
Any of your employees have the statutory right to request flexible working. It’s important to remember that this only applies to your team who are legally classified as an employee.
Your employees can only make the statutory request after 26 weeks of service, but as an employer, you have decided that you want to offer this to your employees sooner.
Employees can make non-statutory requests whenever they wish and there isn’t a limit to the amount they can make unless it is stated in their employment contract. When making a request, employees should include:
Once your employees have put in a request for flexible working you should organise a meeting to talk through their request, and determine whether it’s a formal request or not. This meeting should be held before you make your decision.
In this meeting, your employee has the chance to give you the reason for their request. From here you and your employee can put together a plan for them to work flexibly. This could be setting up a trial period to see how it works for both the business and your employee.
Your employees can bring someone to the meeting with them, this could be a co-worker or a member of their trade union. This isn’t a statutory right, and it’s up to you whether your employee brings someone or not.
An employer can only refuse an application on the following grounds:
Some examples of an unreasonable working request would be “The management team don’t like the idea of the employees’ working pattern being different, or having them working from home” or “It’s not part of the company culture to have a flexible working”
If you decide to decline the request, you need to let your employee know what the business reason for the request being declined is. Employees don’t have the right to appeal the request, but you may want to allow this in your internal policies to avoid grievances.
Make sure that the decision isn’t made on discriminatory grounds, no business reason should relate to the protected characteristics.
Employer Advice has a team of dedicated HR and employment law experts who only work with employers.
With over 80 years of experience in helping employers take the stress of handling their HR and employment law obligations.
Get in touch with one of the Employer Advice experts on 0800 470 0613.