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flexible working

Flexible working during the pandemic and beyond

Jun 3rd, 2020

Kate Hindmarch, Consultant Solicitor

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that homeworking and flexible working can be successful for many businesses who would previously have thought otherwise. Even as we emerge from lockdown, many businesses will still need to accommodate different working patters, putting new obligations on employees and managers.

Since 2014, employees have had the statutory right to request flexible working.  They must have 26-weeks service and, if granted, it is a permanent variation of contract.  Flexible working arrangements typically include:

  • Part-time work
  • Compressed hours – working your usual hours in fewer days
  • Flexitime, which allows you to fit your working hours around agreed core times
  • Working from home or remotely for part or all of the time
  • Self-rostering, where your shift pattern is drawn up to match your prefered times as closely as possible
  • Staggered hours, which allow you to start and finish your days at different times

However, the country’s emergency response to a global pandemic has removed the ability of employers to choose what’s best for the business and has thrust flexible working into the spotlight. Employers have responded positively, but will need to continue to support flexible working even as lockdown begins to end.

Here are five things to consider:

1.    Remember that many employees may still have child care and shielding responsibilities that mean they need some flexibility to balance work and non-work responsibilities.
2.    Set clear expectations about productivity and ensure good team communication so that everyone know what’s expected of them and what’s realistic in the circumstances.
3.    Encourage people to share what works for them, which will help others get the most from flexible working.
4.    Set up working groups for people in similar situations and with similar challenges so that employees can support each other as they work in different ways.
5.    Check-in on staff’s mental health on a regular basis, ensuring that any issues are fed back so that actions can be taken to improve working conditions.

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Kate Hindmarch

Consultant Solicitor

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