On 30 June 2014 the Flexible Working Regulations 2014 came into force, expanding flexible working rights for employees in England, Scotland and Wales. The new regulations extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, not just those who have parental or caring responsibilities. Employers must consider all requests in a reasonable manner, but they can refuse flexible working requests based on business grounds.
‘Flexible working’ refers to many different types of working options—such as hours, times and places of work—including the following:
• Flexi-time: Working a standard core time, but varying the start and finish times within agreed limits
• Compressed hours: Working the total number of contracted weekly hours in fewer working days by working longer individual days
• Job-sharing: Working part time and sharing responsibilities of a full-time position with another employee
• Term-time working: Working a schedule that follows the school term
• Tele/home-working: Working all or part of contracted hours from home
Previously, only employees with children under 17 (or 18 if disabled) or who care for an adult had a statutory right to request flexible working. Now, all employees who have been continuously employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks are entitled to apply for flexible working.
An employee’s application must be in writing and declare that it is a statutory request for flexible working. It also needs to specify what kind of flexible working the employee is applying for, when the new arrangement would become effective, whether the employee has previously made any such request, and what effect the change will have on the employee.
As a business owner or manager, the appeal of granting flexible working may not be immediately clear, but flexible working can benefit both businesses and employees. Flexible working increases staff members’ commitment and loyalty, thus allowing businesses to recruit and retain skilled workers. This translates to higher productivity and profitability. Employees feel more fulfilled with flexible working since it allows them to strike a better balance between their personal responsibilities and their work lives.