According to a YouGov survey, almost half of employees now work flexibly, posing the question as to whether the traditional 9-5 working day is on its way out.
Whilst for most businesses, core hours are led by customer demand and for many that will remain approximately 9-5, flexible working patterns are growing in popularity. This has been encouraged by Government; since June 2014 the right to request to work flexibly has extended to all employees; previously only employees with caring responsibilities had the right.
Employees with at least 26 weeks' continuous employment can make a request for flexible working under the statutory scheme. The employer has a three-month period within which to consider the request, discuss it with the employee, and notify the employee of the outcome. The employer must deal with the application in a reasonable manner and can only refuse a request for the specified reasons set out in the legislation.
The employee can complain to a tribunal on specific grounds, but only one request can be made in any 12-month period.
However, the right is limited to making a request; that request must then be allowed by the employer for the changes sought to take effect. Therefore, the effectiveness of the legislation depends on employers willingness to be flexible.
Employers will have to balance the demands of its customers with those life places on its employees. However, by allowing a request an employer is more likely to end up with an engaged and committed employee, thereby ensuring better productivity in the long-term.
As well as complying with the statutory procedure, some of the issues for employers to be aware of when considering requests are:
With increasing awareness and discussion around the shifting trends for flexible working, it’s likely we will see more pressure being applied to Employers to offer flexibility around the traditional 9-5 as workers strive to achieve a better work/life balance.
What will remain vitally important will be the need for clear policies and advice on an area of law can be a mine-field for employers.