What do I need to know about flexible working
If you thought flexible working was what limbo dancers did, then think again.
The UK now has one of the most adaptable and mobile workforces in Europe and as of 30th June 2014 all employees – not just parents and carers - will have the legal right to request flexible working hours.
Read our six point guide for insights into what flexible working means for you.
Flexible working is not a new idea. In the past it usually meant that the employer would grant certain members of the workforce the ability to work part time, or vary their daily hours according to their needs. For example, it was something often granted to parents with young children or perhaps those employees who had a long commute and were allowed to work from home on certain days.
2. The new law
Most employment laws were created at a time when remote access wasn’t nearly as achievable as it is now, thanks to constant evolving digital developments. The only real option was to be at your workplace to fulfill your job requirements.
The new flexible working rights reflect the fact that employees can just as easily work from home and still perform their job. It also helps to ease rush hour congestion and gives people a better work-life balance.
Quite simply it gives all employees the right to request flexible working from their employer. That’s not to say the employer will grant it, however. It’s still their decision to let you have it. The important thing is you have a chance to request it, and providing you put a reasonable case to your employer they have to listen to you and consider your proposal.
3. What's the process
Any employee now has the legal right to request flexible working and it’s called: making a statutory application. However, you must have been working for the same employer for at least 26 weeks to be eligible.
Once you have made your statutory application to request some form of flexible working, the employer must consider and treat it in a reasonable manner. This includes evaluating the pros and cons of your application, holding a meeting to discuss it with you and offering an appeal process.
4. What's types of flexible working options are there
There are many types of flexible working:
Job sharing - you share a single job with someone and split the hours.
Working from home - you’re still fully employed but spend time at home doing the same work.
Working less hours – you simply work fewer hours and get paid accordingly.
Compressed Hours - you work a full amount of hours but over fewer days.
Flexitime – you work a given number of hours per week, but have flexibility when you do them.
Annualised hours – you have to work a certain number of hours over the year but have some flexibility about when you work; such as when workload demands the extra hours.
Staggered hours – you have different start, finish and break times from other workers.
Phased retirement – the default retirement age no longer exist, if you’re a mature worker you can choose your retirement time. This also means you can reduce their hours and work part time.
5. Acceptance or rejection
If the employer agrees, they should write to you with a statement of the changes accepted as well as a new employee’s contract which includes the new terms and conditions, and finally a start date the flexible working commences.
You should receive the contract no later than 28 days of the time your request was approved.
If your employer rejects your request they must tell you the reasons for doing so. It could be a question of convenience, practicality or it may involve issues which they feel will be detrimental to their business.
If you wish to appeal against a rejection you must follow your company’s appeal procedures for solving a workplace dispute.
You cannot go to an employment tribunal simply because your application is rejected, but you can complain to an employment tribunal if you feel the employer didn’t handle the request in a ‘reasonable manner’.
In other words, if you feel the application was rejected because your employer performed unfair treatment of the application or dismissed it based on incorrect facts.
If so, you should complain to the tribunal within 3 months of the rejection or from the date which your employer agreed to give you a decision, but failed to do so.
Flexible working in many cases should pose no serious problem for an employer, especially if your request does not impact their business. As ever, if you are unsure of your rights, seek legal advice.