By June 30, 2014 Read More →

New flexible working legislation

New flexible working legislation - Kay Heald, HR consultantThis guest post by HR consultant Kay Heald

spells out the flexible working changes

that come into effect today,

and the rights and responsibilities

of both employer and employee.

From today, 30 June 2014, the legal right to request flexible working is changing. It will be extended from those with caring responsibilities to include all employees who have worked continuously for the same employer for at least 26 weeks.

The number of eligible employees able to make flexible working requests will therefore increase dramatically, but the strict procedures will be loosened to help reduce the administrative burden on businesses.

However, in practice, employers will still need to operate a fair system that enables them to handle requests in a reasonable and timely manner. ACAS have issued useful guidelines for employers to follow.

Employees will be required to put their flexible working requests in writing and be prepared to explain their proposal and how they think it could work in practice. They will only be allowed to make one formal application per year.

Employers are being urged to see these new legislative changes as an opportunity to review and rethink the way work is done. According to a CIPD survey, (Flexible Working Provision and Uptake, 2012), flexible work patterns help reduce sickness absence, lead to better retention levels and help motivate employees.

It is hoped that if employers work closely with their employees to experiment with creative and innovative flexible working options, it will give greater autonomy and freedom in how tasks are completed and help increase staff engagement in many job roles.

In this era of mobile communications, faster broadband, cloud computing and teleconferencing, homeworking is going to be given an extra boost with the new legislation.

According to the Office of National Statistics, home working (including home-based working) is already at its highest levels since records began: nearly 14% of the population in the first three months of this year, compared to 11% in 1998.

However, the wise employer needs to recognise that home working is not a one-size-fits-all solution and equipment and people problems can occur, which impact on costs and feasibility.

The most successful home working schemes are ones that:

  • actively use trial periods
  • assess the necessary behaviours and disciplines required
  • agree effective communication mechanisms
  • commit to provide suitable equipment and IT infrastructure
  • organise effective maintenance support
  • develop appropriate health and safety checks

As with so many aspects of people management, planning is key, along with regular reviews to check that home working remains the best flexible working method for a particular employee.

I think the new legislation will act as a helpful framework to explore alternative work patterns, but ultimately, employers looking to explore home working options and employees hoping to make a request to work from home, will find the best solutions through open and honest dialogue.

work from home secrets

Kay is an independent HR Consultant specialising in helping small and family businesses based in and around Shropshire with their personnel and employment needs. She’s also been a home-based worker for nine years.

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