What is Flexible Working?

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Working from home has become popular since COVID.

Flexible working is a phrase used to describe working patterns of employees designed to fit their particular needs.  It is a hot topic since COVID, when working from home (WFH) became more normalised.

What are examples of Flexible working?

Flexible working can include many different aspects.  In short, it is where the employer’s ‘standard’ work practice is changed to fit in around an employee’s other commitments.  It might include:

  • job share
  • compressed hours
  • working from home (WFH) some or all of their working week
  • working part time hours
  • Flexi time
  • Phased retirement

How do I request Flexible Working?

Your employer might have a staff handbook that sets out their flexible working policy including instructions on how to request flexible working.  Basically, you have to request in writing, setting out what flexibility you want to request and your employer must consider your request.  There are limits on how often you can make a request.

We can help you prepare a flexible working request and advise on the points your employer is likely to raise, as well as guiding you through the process.  There is also a collection of flexible working information on the Acas website, including the statutory Code of Practice, which sets out the minimum standard of fairness that workplaces should follow.

Can my Employer refuse Flexible Working?

Yes – there are 8 set statutory reasons (legal rules) why an employer can refuse a flexible working request.  These include an inability to reorganise work amongst other staff, detrimental impact on quality, detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand, and insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work.

What is a Job Share?

A job share is where more than one employee shares a particular role, usually where they each work part of the week, but the role is covered throughout the whole week, with the job sharers working interchangeably with a seamless transition between them.

What are Compressed Hours?

Compressed hours are where you work, say, full time hours over fewer than 5 days a week.

What is Flexi-Time?

Flexi-time is usually understood to be where your employer allows you to start and finish work at a time convenient to you, provided that you work your contracted hours, and often that you are working during set “core” hours, so are available during the part of the day that most staff are working, or when you’re most likely to be needed.

Flexi working can help with work-life balance.

What are Annualised Hours?

Annualised hours are where you have no set hours per week, but you’re obliged to work a certain number of hours per year.

What are Staggered Hours?

Staggered hours are where staff start and finish at times other than the norm, so they start and finish earlier (or later).  Staggered hours were used a lot during the pandemic, as they help reduce the number of people travelling to/from work at the same time, so reduce crowds on public transport.

What is Phased Retirement?

Phased retirement is usually understood as being where you reduce your hours or days as a way to wind down towards retirement, rather than stopping work suddenly.

Advantages of Flexible Working for an Employee

Flexible working is widely agreed to help people manage their work and home commitments, (that all important work-life balance), as well as helping improve mental health and employee well-being.  Reduced time (and cost) of commuting is another benefit for employees, as is the ability to manage the day in the best way for the employee to do what they need to do at work and home.

Advantages of Flexible Working for an Employer

There are numerous advantages for employers of offering flexible working, from boosting the business’s reputation as an inclusive employer and attracting more people to apply for roles.  It will also help boost staff retention, thus reducing recruitment costs, and retaining institutional memory, and improving staff loyalty. Flexible working is widely regarded as improving productivity – a happy workforce is a productive workforce, and ultimately that is what the business wants.

Disadvantages of Flexible Working for an Employer

The obvious disadvantage of flexible working to an employer is perhaps most obviously illustrated with working from home – and managing the productivity of colleagues who are working remotely.  Robust systems may be able to manage this by monitoring and managing productivity.

Need more help?

If you need more help with the subjects covered here then do reach out to our expert online employment law solicitors. You can email us at employment@qlaw.co.uk or call 03300 020 863.

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