Today in the midst of a pandemic everyone is pretty much working from home and as the law relaxes we make temporary arrangements in the midst of a crisis.
Ofcourse you will need to start thinking about moving back to an office (or not) in the not too distant future but you may already have employees who are already asking if they can make a permanent change to their working routine or move to permanent home working.
The way in which we work in 2021 has already started to shift in a 21st century style of flexible working options that many employers have already adopted, bringing pros and cons to working life. The fact is that we can get great performance from colleagues if we enable them to take control and have some balance in their life and the law has changed to support this. Offering flexible approaches to working life has never been more important than now, as Claire our Health & Well-being expert shares her view of the world in her latest blog.
We recognise that there are always going to be some roles that never work quite as well as they do when you have a team sitting together in an office and therefore you need to really think about the barriers and have a clear rationale as to why a particular role won't work in a different way, especially if your staff have been remote working and the performance has been servicing your clients well. So where do you draw the line? What are your responsibilities as an employer? And what is the legal position?
First lets understand the definition of flexible working
The definition actually refers to any type of working pattern that differs from the existing one and can include flexible start and finish times, condensed working weeks, or changing an office base to permanently working from home.
Flexible working doesn't effect statutory employment rights and you may want to check HMRC rules on claimable expenses and limits on working at other office bases to understand any other legal restrictions you may want to consider that could impact on costs for your business.
If an employee wants to request a permanent change to home working they will also need to check their mortgage or rental terms (if they have one) and consult their insurer beforehand as there maybe other implications they haven't considered.
What is an employees right to request flexible working?
There are two types of request they can make:
Legally, employees can only make a statutory request after 26-weeks of service. and they can only make one request in any 12 month period. You have to legally consider it but you don't have to grant the request as long as you have a clear, objective business rationale for the refusal and you make the decision with a response within 3 months of receiving the formal request unless you agree an extension with the employee.
EXPERT SUPPORT - You can call US if you need additional advice on how to legitimately refuse a request on 0800 567 7003.
For a non-statutory request where you want to go above and beyond the legal limits because it supports your EDI strategy, then you can decide as an organisation what this looks like. You will however need to write it into a policy, decide how you want to apply the key principles and train your managers on its implementation.
Any requests must be put in writing and state when they made their last request (if this applies) and what changes they are seeking. It helps if they can give a rationale on how they see it working within their team, impacts on other work and how they expect to deliver the same performance (or even improve).
It does help if you have a form they can fill in so we have provided a template in our members vault you can download.
There are typical working patterns that employees may want to ask for like part-time working, working patterns around childcare, job sharing, fractional hours like term time only or changing their base of work.
The question we get most is about how flexible working can apply when other flexible options exist. For instance you may already have 'Flexi time' and typically these systems operate with core hours. You may not need a formal request to be more flexible with staff if your core hours are 10am -3pm as staff with children can accommodate the school run if this fits with school and travel times.
We know that condensed hours works really well, this is where a 5 day week maybe delivered in 4 or you may have a request for a 9 day fortnight. Working a longer day can seem like it would impinge on an employees health but if working the 5 days is causing them additional stress because they can't get a balance in their life then allow them to see if it works and use the trial period to assess the results from both sides.
Home working used to be something you either loved or hated and typically many employees like a blended approach, that said we know that our clients are telling us many more employees want to apply for a permanent change rather than going back to the office full time.
Our recommendation is that if you can make the decision now, fairly and consistently applied across your business, then get on with it. Why? People like certainty, control and lets face it we have very little of that at the moment.
EXPERT SUPPORT - You can call US if you need additional advice on how to deal with permanent home working requests during the pandemic on 0800 567 7003.
What are the key benefits of Flexible Working?
We guarantee atleast one of these will apply to your organisation:
You can decide which approach works best for your business. Often we write Flexible Working Policies & Procedures, tailored to an organisation, embedding the ethos and values and aligned to the EDI strategy. We then train to managers implement and embed the policy so they understand the benefits and how to use the key principles when recruiting or planning for new roles. This usually means we then review your recruitment and selection processes to ensure they fit the same strategic agenda.
EXPERT SUPPORT - You can call US if you need additional advice on how to write or implement any bespoke policies & procedures and need additional expert help on implementing your EDI strategy into your policies on 0800 567 7003.
Read how Claire juggles working at home with schooling the kids and making sure she stays on top of everything.................
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