The benefits for the workplace and what employers need to know
Millions of employees will receive the right to request flexible working from day one of employment thanks to a new bill announced this week. The bill will empower workers to have a greater say over when, where, and how they work, and in return businesses will benefit from higher productivity and staff retention as a result.
Additionally, around 1.5 million low paid workers will be given even further flexibility, with a new law coming into force to remove exclusivity clause restrictions, allowing them to work for multiple employers if they wish.
Under the new law, workers have the right to make two requests for flexible working within any 12-month period, while previously they could only make one, and employers are required to consult with employees before rejecting their flexible working requests.
The benefits of flexible working for employees
Flexible working doesn’t just mean a combination of working from home and in the office – but rather extends to making use of job-sharing, flexitime, and working compressed, annualised, or staggered hours.
The benefit of these new measures will give employees access to flexibility over where, when, and how they work, which encourages greater wellbeing thanks to having a better balance in their home and work lives. This in turn leads to happier, more productive employees. This is especially true for employees who care for children, the elderly, or a vulnerable family member.
The benefits of flexible working for employers
Alongside the clear benefits to employees, providing more flexible jobs and workplaces will help organisations attract and retain a more diverse workforce and boost their ability to address skills and labour shortages. Meanwhile, more flexibility built into the workplace could help to reduce sickness and absenteeism and help to extend working hours to better suit their business needs.
Allowing more flexible work options, for example – working from home for all or part of the week, may help to reduce costs, especially when it comes to office space and energy bills. Advances in technology means it’s now easy for employees to log in remotely to participate in meetings, deliver presentations, work on projects and hand in work. Often, all that is required for employees to work is the use of the internet, a phone, and a computer, so having people working from home could help to cut running costs for some businesses.
Takeaway points for employers:
- Employers will need to be ready to deal with flexible working requests right from the moment they decide to recruit. Bringing up the subject during the interview process is likely to put both parties in good stead prior to hiring.
- There is no longer a 26-week qualifying period before employees can request flexible working with their employer. The new law makes it a day-one right for all employees.
- There is no longer a requirement for employees to explain how the effects of their flexible working request might be dealt with by their employer.
- Employers must allow employees to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period.
- Employers must respond to requests within two months, this is down from 3 months previously.
- Employers must consult with their employees and explore the available options, before rejecting a flexible working request.
If you are an employer and would like further advice on the new Flexible Working Bill and what it might mean for your organisation, please contact hr inspire’s expert HR team – Hertfordshire’s leading HR consultancy which can bring your business the benefits, protection and experience of an entire HR department.