Consensus HR

Your outsourced HR department.

Are You Flexible?

Published in Employment Law, General, Handbook

Are You Flexible? –  Flexible working rules changed significantly this year. They apply to every business, of any size. Are you ready?

From 10th June 2014, all employees may request to work flexibly. But – only 10% of small business owners are aware of this, (Sage UK research).

“Now, all employees have the legal right to ask for flexible working times and daysthat suits their needs,” explains Matthew Pinto-Chilcott from Consensus HR. “This can include having flexible start and finish times, or working from home. The only requirements are that the employees must have 26 weeks of service and that only one request can be made in any 12 months.”

The Basic Steps of Flexible Working…

  1. Employee submits a written request to the employer, including: 
  • The date of the request and a statement that this is a statutory request
  • Details of how the employee want to work flexibly and when they want to start
  • An explanation of how they think flexible working might affect the business and how this could be dealt with e.g. if they are not at work on certain days
  • A statement saying if and when they have made a previous application
  1. Employer considers the request

A decision must be made within three months, (or longer if agreed with the employee). When considering the application, an employer should:

  • Be open-minded. Don’t assume that you know the reasons for the request. Read every application fully. Treat each subsequent application with equal attention.
  • Remember precedents – how have requests been dealt with in the past? Each must be treated equally.
  • Negotiate.  If your business is unable to accommodate an employee’s exact requirements, negotiate. Discuss options and consider a trial period.
  1. Making The Decision

If you agree to the request, the employee’s contract should be updated to reflect the new terms and conditions within 28 days of approval, (advice should be sought from a HR professional on how to do this).

If you disagree, you must write to the employee giving the legal, business reasons for the refusal. Examples of acceptable reasons for rejection are:

  • Extra costs which will damage the business
  • The work cannot be re-organised among other staff
  • There is a lack of work to do during the proposed working times

Be aware that rejection of the application may cause demotivation and resentment. The employee no longer has a right to appeal, however best practice involves offering this option. Plus, the employee may be able to complain to an employment tribunal.

To summarise…

All businesses should carefully consider requests for flexible working from an employee. Whether the request is accepted or rejected, the outcome must be handled fairly and communicated carefully.

If you would like to know more about Flexible Working, or have received a request and would like to discuss it, contact Matthew at Consensus HR.