How flexible are you?

Not personally, you understand!  However, as a modern employer, no doubt you have implemented, considered, or been asked about some form of flexible working practice.  There remains a great deal of variation of flexibility in UK workplaces and the very phrase still fills many employers with concern.

The legal position is that anyone with 26 weeks’ service can make a request to work flexibly, which the employer must consider, but is able to reject for legitimate business reasons.  However, this article is about more than simply your legal obligation, but what benefits flexible working might bring and why it’s not a scary concept!

Recently, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) reported that they considered progress regarding gender pay gaps, as well as pay gaps for disabled or ethnic minority employees, was “painfully slow”.  They set out some recommendations to try to tackle these issues and advertising all jobs as flexible was one of them.  Whilst other areas of work often evolve quickly, there remains a traditional mind-set in many workplaces that sees hours being rigid, homeworking frowned upon, and fears of loss of management control dominate.  At the same time, other employers look to utilise zero hours contracts, or categorise workers as “self-employed”, so it’s clear that certain forms of flexible working which are more clearly financially beneficial for an employer is growing in popularity.   However, look into other forms of flexible working more closely, and you will see a great deal of research pointing to financial benefits for organisations here too.  When people feel happy and trusted at work, they are likely to be more engaged and productive and also less likely to take time off sick.  You as an employer will be able to access a wider pool of potential new employees when you are recruiting, as you haven’t narrowed your field.  It’s also not necessarily the case that flexible working always means reduced hours and thus reduced productivity.  Working at different times, or working compressed hours, means you receive the same amount of output, but with (hopefully) a more engaged employee who you may otherwise have lost.

Clearly, some jobs present more challenges than others to enable flexibility, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s impossible.  Have a think about it, as you may find you get great results.



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