Open Navigation

Flexible Working

A different way of working

Flexible working is a generic term, often referring to working in a different way to the traditional working pattern for a role or to working in a new or different way for the individual in question. Being open to flexible working, businesses encourage equality of opportunity and work-life balance and make themselves more attractive places to work.

Flexible working

Flexible working covers a range of different practices such as:

  • changing the employee’s normal working hours;
  • reducing the number of days or hours worked;
  • working compressed hours;
  • alterations in shift working
  • working from home or remote working
  • job shares and shift working

Some changes might have consequential effects on pay, whereas others may not. For example, working different or compressed hours (ie full time hours but over 4 rather than 5 days) shouldn’t affect their salary or benefits provided the overall number of hours worked does not change.

Any employee can make an informal request to work flexibly, and it is often prudent for an employee to have an initial chat with their manager to find out whether the flexible working pattern proposed would be suitable for the business.

Employees with more than 26 weeks service have the right to make a statutory request for flexible working.  This right is not limited to parents or carers and can be made by any employee, for any reason.  In order to make a statutory request the law sets out a process that must be followed by both the employee making the request and the employer. The entire statutory process must be completed within 3 months from the date of the employee’s request which must be in writing (and the employee cannot make a further request within a twelve month period, so they need to get it right first time).

Employers are not obliged to grant requests for flexible working, but they must consider them carefully.  Ruling out requests because flexible working is not part of the organisation’s culture or may lead to further requests is not permissible.  There are only a number of statutory grounds upon which a request may legitimately be refused, these are:

  • the burden of additional costs;
  • a detrimental effect on meeting customer demand;
  • the inability to re-organise work amongst existing staff;
  • the inability to recruit additional staff;
  • a detrimental impact on quality;
  • a detrimental impact on performance;
  • insufficient work during the periods the employee proposes to work; and
  • planned structural changes.

Even where flexible working may be a cultural shift for an organisation they should consider that many employees now regard it is beneficial when considering employment moves and the ability to work flexibly can result in attracting and retaining good staff.  It is also worth being in mind that where there are reasons behind the request, such as caring for a child or family member, in some circumstances a refusal could be directly or indirectly discriminatory.

If the request for flexible working is granted, this will normally mean a permanent change to the employee’s employment contract unless a temporary change or “trial period” is negotiated between the parties.

News

Numbers Engaged in Early Conciliation Continue to Rise

Numbers Engaged in Early Conciliation Continue to Rise

ACAS, the statutory conciliation service, has reported a 21% increase in the number of Early Conciliation notifications it received in 2018/19. Making an Early Conciliation notification is the first step a potential claimant must take if they intend on issuing certain claims against their employer. Once the Early Conciliation notification has been made, ACAS will…

Read More

MyGMPD

We are delighted to partner with MyGMPD as Subject Matter Experts to provide professional development training and content to Global Mobility specialists across a range of industries and companies. Launched in 2019, MyGMPD aims to provide a professional development programme to improve skills and specialist Global Mobility knowledge leading to accreditation and recognition. Our specialist…

Read More

BritishAmerican Business Publication Launch

As part of our close collaboration with BritishAmerican Business (BAB) we have been working with them this Summer on their Trade and Investment Guide to the UK. With so much political uncertainty in the UK leading up to the 31st October Brexit deadline and the potential for a future trade deal with the US under…

Read More