Flexible working describes an employment arrangement where the start and finish times or the location of work applicable to an employee are flexible. Not only Is it beneficial to the employee, but it also encourages employee retention, motivation, productivity, and more.
What does 'flexible working' really cover?
Flexible working can come in a variety of different forms.
It might involve an employee requesting to reduce or vary their hours, the days that they work, or changing their work location.
Common examples of flexible working include...
Term-time working, (the employee does not work during the school holidays)
Annualised hours (often used for shift-workers, this describes an arrangement where an employee works a certain number of hours throughout the year, but with some flexibility around when the hours are worked.
Typically, some of the time is set on a shift, or regular hours basis, with the remainder taken up on as ‘as needed’ basis.)
Compressed hours (where the employee works the same number of hours as a full-time worker, but over fewer days)
Flexi-time (here, the employee can choose when to start and end work (within agreed limits), but they will generally work certain core hours within this arrangement, e.g. every working day, they will work 10.30am to 3pm.)
Staggered hours (the employee starts, ends and takes breaks at different times to other workers.)
Home working (the employee works some or all of their hours out of the office, either at home or an alternative location that is not on any of our business premises.)
Job-sharing (two employees do the one job, splitting the duties and hours between them.)
Who's eligible to request flexible hours?
(Other workers will have alternative contractual mechanisms to negotiate altered working arrangements, but they do not have an outright legal right to do so.)
The legal right to request flexible working doesn't just apply to parents and carers.
All employees who have continuously worked for the same employer for 26 weeks or more (and who are not employee shareholders) are eligible for flexible working.
How often can they request it?
They have a statutory legal right to request it (called making a statutory application’).
However, they may do so only once in any 12-month period.
Do you have to agree to the request?
As an employer, you’re legally obliged to consider the request reasonably and to follow certain procedural steps once you receive it.
You’re not legally obliged to grant the request, if there are objectively good reasons for not doing so.
Your employee can complain to an employment tribunal and request a remedy if you:
- fail to deal with their application in a reasonable manner
- fail to notify them of the decision on their application within the decision period
- fail to rely on one of the statutory grounds when refusing their application base your decision on incorrect facts, or
- treat the application as withdrawn when the grounds entitling you to do so do not apply.
You mustn’t dismiss, make redundant, or otherwise disadvantage the employee in reaction to their request.
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