No - we’re not asking you to touch your toes – but last week the law changed to allow all employees with 26 weeks continuous service the right to request a flexible working arrangement. Here’s a brief overview of the changes and what they might mean for you. So what does a request look like – well it must be dated and in writing and include a statement that it is a statutory request. The employee must also explain what changes they are looking to make to their

working arrangements and from what date. The request should also include information on what impact the changes may have in the workplace and how this could be dealt with.

The employee must also confirm that they have not made another request in the preceding 12 months.

Flexible working requests are not just about changing hours – they can include:

  • job share

  • working from home or remotely

  • flexible start and finish times

  • annualised hours or term-time contracts or

  • compressed hours

By offering flexible working, organisations can benefit through reduced absenteeism, improved ability to recruit and retain skilled employees and increased motivation, engagement and commitment of staff. There are challenges though – it’s important that organisations meet all legal requirements when dealing with requests such as responding within the required timescales, dealing with requests consistently and giving them serious consideration and explaining all decisions fully and in writing. Organisations also need to consider how they balance customer and employee needs and ensure that communication and training is managed effectively.

Research indicates that the benefits of flexible working can be achieved through a few simple principles:

  • Know what’s right for your organisation, your employees and your customers - flexible working could improve the service to your customers

  • Ensure your employees understand flexible working and how it might work for them and the organisation

  • Make sure your managers understand their responsibility for making flexibility work

  • Be open to new ideas and discuss with employees how it might work – you could also consider a trial period

  • Recognise the benefits of flexible working and be able to talk about these

  • Review, learn and evaluate – like all business activities you want to look for opportunities to continuously improve

If you’d like to discuss further how flexible working can benefit your organisation then please get in touch.

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