Flexible working – how far can you bend?

From the 6th of April 2014 all employees will be able to make a flexible work request under changes being introduced by government in the Children and Families Bill which is currently before Parliament.

The Government is set to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees subject to them having 26 weeks consecutive service.  The current statutory procedure for considering these requests will also be removed and instead employers should deal with requests “in a reasonable manner”.

Although the more prescriptive statutory procedure will be removed, employers must still respond to a request within 3 months of the application being made and the current grounds on which flexible working request can be refused will remain.

These grounds include;

  • Additional costs which will damage the business
  • Business will be unable to meet customer demand
  • Work cannot be redistributed amongst other staff
  • The business is unable to recruit cover for additional work
  • Flexible working will have an effect on quality and performance
  • Lack of work during proposed working times
  • The business is planning changes to the work force

So, what will this change mean for employers?

The Government are confident that this change will bring a number of benefits to employers including;

  • The ability to retain valuable staff
  • Reduction in absenteeism
  • Increased employee commitment
  • Increased productivity and
  • The ability to extend business opening hours. 

Sounds great? ……however realistically what will this mean for small to medium size businesses?

They may now see increased threats of employment tribunals when declining flexible work requests, pressure in providing adequate staffing levels for business opening hours, unsupervised staff and increased challenges with communication and team work.

Only time will tell what impact this change will have however in the mean time if you require any assistance with flexible work requests or any other HR matter please call the ProAktive team on 01302 341344.

By Louise Addison

 

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