This is a massive one for me and one that I spend most of my professional career talking about!!!
It is your right as an employer to determine whether a flexible working request will be detrimental to delivering your business services / products to your clients and you are able to reject requests for flexible working as long as you comply with the regulations. You could also consider a trial period, but once agreed any variation to working conditions are permanent and become contractual.
However, employees must also qualify for flexible working by:
If all of the above is in order then your employee making the request should submit a formal ‘request form’ in line with the Company’s policy. The onus is on the employee making the request to detail the nature of the flexible working request i.e. to work from home, to change hours, to job share etc. together with mitigating actions required to ensure minimal disruption to the business.
The employer must consider and respond to applications within 28 of receipt and either hold a meeting to discuss any modifications to the application / alternative options or accept the request in writing. If a meeting is required to discuss the application, a mutually convenient appointment should be made and a decision given within a fortnight of the meeting. Time periods are flexible subject to agreement by both yourself and your employee. It is also possible to agree a flexible working arrangement on a trial basis (normally up to three months), and if the arrangement is not working within that time, the trial can be terminated, again complying with the regulations.
Any changes to employment patterns agreed must be documented and no further requests for varying work arrangements can be made for at least a year after the initial application, regardless of whether you, the employer, accepted or rejected their first request.
As an employer, if the flexible working request is proven to not work for your business (for example it may have an unacceptable burden of additional cost or require a structural change) then you are at liberty to refuse the request, but you must document the business reasons for this.
Employees are able to appeal against a decision of refusal but must do this within 14 days of the date of decision.
Flexible working can work in many circumstances, but sometimes it just doesn’t do the business justice to accept an application.
While the law allows requests from three specific groups, many businesses, both large and small have allowed all employees the right to request flexible working. By adopting a flexible approach for all workers, many businesses benefit from longer operational hours of business, multi-skilled employees covering different shifts and greater holiday cover.
For further information on understanding flexible working, developing policies and procedures and protecting your business when receiving a formal request, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01923 504100.
Christmas coming, are you listening
Here’s a warning, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight
Office party tonight
Working in a winter wonderland
Annual leave is a coming
Short staffed is a looming
and winter colds
Working in a winter wonderland
If you plan ahead for the closedown
Enable staff to work from home
They’ll say: Can we have the day off
We’ll say: no man
But you can do the job
When you’re at home.
Later on, we’ll agree it
As we really ought to do it
To face unafraid
The policy we’ve made
Working in a winter wonderland
Today I am looking for a referral to accountants Jigsol, who are in Trafalgar House in Mill Hill.
DOHR, Making the Workplace a Winter Wonderland.
There are several reasons why an employee may be working from home, but in this article, we ignore the reasons behind home workers and focus on things an employer must consider to ensure legal compliance and business effectiveness of the arrangements.
A home worker must have a workspace which is fit for purpose. Whether the role involves a computer at a desk or a telephone, paper and pen, the employer must make sure that the employee has adequate seating, lighting and desk space as required.If the employee has stock or samples to store or move around, the employer must again ensure that this is done safely and with no risk to the employee or other people at the house.
Although the duty of care falls to the employer, there is an obligation on employees to play their role in establishing and maintaining a healthy and safe working environment. They must ensure that they make use of facilities provided and inform their employer if there are any changes in circumstance.
As well as the physical environment, employees must ensure that they psychological environment is appropriate for work. An employee must be able to fully focus on the job while they are working. They should not have young children or large dogs running around or a constant flow of callers to the house. Employees are expected to be undistracted and to dedicate themselves 100% to their job, during their working hours.
Communication is essential to making a home worker relationship effective. Whether one member of the team or the whole team works remotely, it is vital that regular communication channels are established and maintained. Ideas include weekly team calls, group emails, newsletters and monthly meetings. The exact contents of these will vary depending on the nature and culture of the business, the type of work being done from home and the personality of the home workers themselves. The purpose of the communication is twofold: to ensure that the employee is engaged with the business and therefore wants to contribute to it’s success; and that the work delivered is what is expected and required by the business. Home working can be isolating and good communication will lead to better outcomes.
Other considerations include the type of work being done. Is the home worker merely based at home for contractual reasons and then travelling around to effectively do their role? Or does the role require the employee to be sat at a desk all day working? What support and training does the employee need? What additional tools do they require to do their role? If they need a car, is one provided in the same way as it would be for an office based employee? If they need internet access or a dedicated phone line, how does this get paid for?
Employment legislation applies equally to home workers as it does to office based workers and compliance with Acts such as the Equality Act, The Working Time Directive and Part-time Workers Regulations all still apply. Does the home-worker have the same terms and conditions of employment? Are their pay and benefits the same as they would be if they were based in the office? Is there someone doing the same job as them based in the office and are the two employees treated equally. The only contractual difference should be their location.
When considering using home workers, consider their home as a satellite office. You don’t have the right to turn up unannounced, but they are employees and should be managed in a fair and equitable way, helping the business to achieve it’s goals.
For further information and support on employing home based workers, please contact DOHR on 01923 504100 or at www.dohr.co.uk
The truth is, that for many employers job sharing is just too scary. It is not the way things have traditionally been done and it is a step into the unknown. Employers can’t imagine trying to work out who does what, how they will ensure consistency and continuity and how they can afford two people.
What they do not often think about is the advantages of having two people who know the job (if the job is shared) and therefore being able to provide sickness and holiday cover; or the advantages of having employees dedicated to a discrete area of work (if the role is divided) and therefore becoming more expert or proficient in that field.
The cost of job share is minimal as the employee only gets paid for the hours they work, they usually share facilities such as a desk and the cost of their pension contributions, if based on a % earned will remain unchanged. So the only additional costs may be health care or life assurance (if offered) or other similar benefits.
The key to a successful job share is communication. It is important to ensure that the job is well defined and that the whole organisation knows who to approach and when. Communication between the job share employees is vital to ensure efficiency and continuity of service to the business, its suppliers and its customers.
Another essential factor is getting the right people in the roles. If the role is shared, the job holders must be great team players, they must be able to work and thrive within a team and not be possessive of their role. They must also be highly motivated and driven to do a good job so that bits of the job are not continually left for the other person and end up never being done. Getting recruitment right is essential.
When an employee applies for job sharing, they may be doing so under the flexible working legislation. If so, there is a duty on the employer to seriously consider the request and to respond within specified timescales. Although there is an obligation to consider the request, there is no obligation to grant it, but if the employer decides not to allow the arrangement, their decision has to be based on specific criteria. The employer can reject the request if the proposed changes result in:
• a burden of additional cost
• a detrimental effect on the business’s ability to meet customer demand
• an inability to re-organise work among existing staff
• an inability to recruit additional staff
• a detrimental effect on quality
• a detrimental effect on performance
• an insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work
• a planned structural change
With the improvements in technology, the need for employers to compete for top talent and the desire to retain high performing employees, job sharing is becoming more popular. Employers who look after their staff and allow them to work in patterns they are able to, generally find that the employees are more productive while at work and perform to a higher level as they are more motivated and focussed.
Today’s news headlines are that 4.5m additional parents will be given the right to ask their employers for flexible working arrangements.
I can hear the groans and the cheers now. Employers will have a mixed reaction, for some the right to request is an administrative nightmare, they don’t have the resources or the knowledge to handle the requests. For others it is welcomed with open arms as it means flexibility in their work force, retention of sills and an increased ability to provide quality service to customers – as with everything, if it is implemented properly.
For parents, well as one myself, flexibility is absolutely essential to ensuring our sanity as we work not only for our employer and our family, but to achieve a balance between the two. I was fortunate, I had good childcare for both the kids from a young age. The problems actually came once my eldest started school. The school day is shorter than a day at full time nursery. Parents are asked to help with outings, fairs and attend meetings and this changes the dynamics significantly. Giving parents of older children the right to request flexible working is ‘the right thing to do’.
But what does this mean in reality?
Well, just because an employee has the right to request flexible working arrangements, doesn’t mean they are going to be able to work flexibly. The business still has the ability to say “no”. There are several reasons why a business may say no and they include the burden of additional costs, inability to recruit to meet the needs of the business and a detrimental impact on performance or quality.
So, what could flexible working ‘look like’?
A flexible working arrangement is a permanent change to an employee’s contract and might involve any of the following:
Is it good for business? Yes, as long as the business manages it properly.
Is it good for customers? Yes, because it can be used to improve quality of service.
Is it good for families? Yes, because it enables parents to balance the needs of the family with their desire and need to work.
Could more be done to ensure that this is implemented in a way which supports businesses and their employees?
Yes, while parents and carers have the right to ask to work flexibly, other employees do not. This is detrimental to those without child and elder responsibilities. Flexible working should be a matter of course, available to everyone and one day it will be, but businesses need to make a psychological shift to see the benefits and be bold enough to make the move. Those that do, will win the war for talent.