In 2014 employees who had worked for a company for a minimum of 26 weeks won the statutory right to request flexible working. Flexible working comes in a number of different forms; it could be part time working, flexitime, reduced or compressed hours, job sharing and shift work, or the ability to work some of their hours from home.
An employee might ask for flexible working for any number of personal or practical reasons, so their request should be dealt with sensitively. They might have family or caring responsibilities, ill health, a wish to combine work and study, or perhaps a lengthy commute which could be shortened if they travelled off-peak, or totally eradicated if they worked from home. It’s important to remember that flexible working can be a positive thing for you and your business, so any request deserves careful consideration.
Flexible working has been shown to nurture and promote high levels of employee commitment, reduce levels of staff turnover and contribute to lower levels of stress for your staff. Additionally employers who offer flexible working are at an advantage straight away when recruiting new talent into their business.
Flexible working requests can be made by any employee once they have completed 26 weeks employment with you. However many businesses have introduced policies meaning all staff, regardless of their length of service can put in a request for flexible working. Ideally your workplace should have a policy outlined in the staff handbooks regarding flexible working. Legally the process of making a request is as follows –
- Requests from employees should be in writing, stating the date of the request and whether any previous application has been made and the date of that application.
- Requests and appeals must be considered and decided upon within three months of the receipt of the request. The law requires the process to be completed within three months of the request being received, this includes any appeals.
- Employers must have a sound business reason for rejecting any request.
- Employees can only make one request in any 12 month period.
- Once a request has been received there should be a meeting to discuss the request, this should be done as soon as possible, although this is not a statutory requirement it is considered to be good practice.
Having a meeting with your employee to discuss what kind of flexible working arrangements the employee is asking for, and reasons for making that request is good practice, although the employee may not wish to go into the details of their own circumstances and reasons for making the request.
Employers should consider requests in a even-handed manner and can only refuse them if there are sound business reasons for doing so, this must be one of the following reasons –
- The burden of additional costs
- An inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff and/or recruit additional staff
- A detrimental impact on quality and/or performance
- An inability to meet customer demand
- Insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
- Any planned structural changes to the business.
Flexible working has the potential to bring positive change to any business, and for many flexible working is seen as the future of employment. Introducing flexible working into your workplace needs careful consideration, but there are a great many positives for employers and employees alike. If you’re unsure of how to proceed, contact Triple Three Solutions today for bespoke HR advice and guidance for your business.
If you are looking for a HR Consultancy in Cheshire who can offer HR advice on flexible working then contact Triple Three Solutions today on 0161 300 1214.