Having introduced an hours’ trial in the last half of 2016 for all our London staff, we know first-hand of the benefits flexible working brings, not just to productivity but to the wellbeing of our people. It’s certainly something that we will continue to encourage and develop in 2017.
In the UK, from a legal standpoint, every employee has a right to make a request to work flexibly as long as they have at least 26 weeks or six months’ continuous service. Employers must deal with the written statutory request in a ‘reasonable manner’, which essentially means they need to respond promptly (within three months), having considered and discussed the matter with their employee.
Requests can only be turned down for one of the eight reasons listed in the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) code of practice. As you’d expect, factors for rejection include any detrimental impact on quality, performance, and ability to meet customer demand as well as planned structural changes to the business or reorganisation of work among existing staff.
Worker wellbeing and work-life balance
On that note, our recent flexible working survey revealed that the vast majority of employees (87%) and employers (92%) did not feel that productivity would in any way be affected – in fact, if anything, it would improve. The evidence would seem pretty conclusive – people recognise that flexible working makes business sense.
Another concern that organisations typically have is that once you make it available to everyone, the requests will come flooding in. But as Jemma Leeson, Resourcing Manager at international law firm legal firm Simmons & Simmons told us, “We’ve found that in reality, that doesn't happen. We haven't been inundated with requests, especially from new recruits. It tends to be once people are settled in and are working a bit more that they put in a request.”
The other point to consider is that most of your clients will also be embracing flexible working as they’re fully aware of the benefits in providing a quality service to meet the round the clock demands of their own clients. Importantly, it also shows that the wellbeing of your staff and helping them achieve a good work-life balance matters to you.
And as I’ve said before, trust inevitably plays a massive part – but if you've made the right hires and you have faith in your selection process, what have you got to worry about?
Not a lot, apart from compensation claims for unlawful discrimination if you’re being unreasonable.