• Flexible working changes – good practice points

    Published: September 2 2014

    With the recent changes to Flexible Working Regulations, which widen the opportunity to make a request to any employee with 26 weeks’ service, there are a few good practice points for employers to put into action.

    Review your policies and procedures

    If you have not already done so, this is an opportunity to review your flexible working policy and supporting procedure, and if necessary carry out a re-write. Perhaps other policies or procedures need a bit of review as well, or you want to overhaul all your family-friendly policies into one section of your handbook? In drafting procedures, and then implementing them when requests are made, employers will need to ensure that they are operating in accordance with the ACAS Code of Practice.

    Inform your employees

    Have you drawn your employees’ attention to the changes in the regulations? You may well have put time and effort already into updating your staff handbook so that it is up to date on the new legal position. Having done so, it is worthwhile informing your employees of the changes, let them know that their eligibility has changed, reminding them how to make a request and that the onus is on them to show how their employer can accommodate their request.

    This might be an opportunity for a more general reminder and update on your policies, as these indicate your position as an employer in key areas, and influence your culture as an employer.

    Remind managers how to deal with requests

    Have you reminded line managers about how to deal with flexible working requests? There are a number of reasons set out in law as to when an employer may refuse flexible working requests, and managers should be encouraged to work within this guidance if they are concerned about the impact of a request in their business area. Ultimately, it will be a manager’s decision as to whether to agree to the request or not.

    Benefits to flexible working

    There are business benefits in flexible working arrangements which include retaining staff; saving on the costs associated with staff turnover; positive employee engagement and extending the availability of employees to provide a service over longer working hours to benefit customers.

    The ACAS guidance has some useful examples of the sorts of requests which are made, and case studies which demonstrate how an employer might act to accommodate the request or to refuse it.

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