Flexible Working Hours

There’s been a lot of talk about flexible working hours recently. This is because as of 30th June 2014 all employees (not just parents and carers) have the legal right to request flexible working.

This can be a real concern to employers and I’ve had a number of conversations recently about the best way to deal with such requests. So for this month’s HR tips I thought it would be useful to provide you with a list of Frequently Asked Questions so that, should an employee approach you with such a request, you know exactly what you can and can’t do.

Here are the most common questions I’ve been asked about flexible working:

  1. What exactly is flexible working?
    • Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs. This could be flexible start and finish times, or working from home.
  2. Can you give me examples of flexible working
    • Job sharing where two employees undertake one job and divide the hours.
    • Working from home or elsewhere that is not the normal place of work for some or all of the time.
    • Part time. This may be working fewer days or less than the normal full time hours.
    • Compressed hours. This is working full time hours but over fewer days.
    • Flexitime. This is when an employee decides when to start and finish work within an agreed period and works within agreed ‘core hours’. Core hours could be 10am – 4 pm.
    • Annualised hours. The employee has to work a set number of hours during the year but they have some flexibility about when they work. This will be within agreed core hours during the week, but the rest of the hours are when the demand requires it.
    • Staggered hours. This is where an employee has different start, finish and break times from other employees.
  3. How long does an employee have to work for me before they are eligible?
    • Employees must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks to be eligible.
  4. Am I obligated to review the request?
    • Employers must deal with requests in a ‘reasonable manner’. The guide to what is considered to be a reasonable manner is:
      • Assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the application
      • Holding a meeting to discuss the request with the employee
      • Offering an appeal process
  5. Can I refuse a request for flexible working?
    • You can refuse an application if you have a good business reason for doing so. The refusal must be made in writing giving a clear explanation.
  6. What constitutes ‘good business reason’?
    • Employment Law applying to refusal flexible working requests states the following:
      • The burden of additional costs falls on the employer;
      • There is a detrimental effect on the business’ ability to meet customer demand;
      • Your inability as an employer to reorganise the work within the existing workforce;
      • Your inability as an employer to recruit additional staff;
      • It has a detrimental impact on quality;
      • It has a detrimental impact on performance;
      • The employer has an inability to reorganise the work within the exsiting workforce;
      • There is insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work;
      • There are planned structural changes.
  7. What is the process for an employee to apply for flexible working?
    • Firstly, the employee will need to put the request in writing
    • Next the employer has three months in which to consider the request and makes a decision
    • If the employer agrees to the request the employees contract will need to be updated
  8. If the employee does not agree with the decision are they able to contest it?
    • Yes. The employee may complain to an employment tribunal.

If you have a question covering flexible employment that I’ve not covered here, please email me at enquiries@lloydhrconsultancy.co.uk or call me on 07751 225803.