Dear <<First Name>>
Two years ago, the right to request flexible working was extended to all employees. This had a huge impact on some businesses; do you know how it affects yours? Do you know how to implement the changes so that you stay on the right side of the law?
This issue of HR Watch brings you a summary of what you need to know, to minimise the risks and to help you get the best from flexible working.
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How Flexible Are You? Everything You Need To Know About Flexible Working
Flexible working is a benefit to many people, allowing them to achieve a better work-life balance. For some, this also makes them more productive at work. Many small businesses have allowed flexible working as it helps them recruit good staff and allows them to give something extra to their employees. For some businesses, the change has been seen as a negative one. However, if you understand how to use flexible working, your business and your employees can really benefit from it, helping you to build a more loyal, hard working team.
The right to request flexible working was previously restricted to parents of children under the age of 17 and carers. This right was extended to all employees in June 2014. What does this mean?
- It removes the requirement for the employee to be a carer to qualify for the right to make a request
- It places a duty on employers to deal with requests in a ‘reasonable’ manner
- It requires you to notify your employee of your decision within three months of their application, or longer if this is agreed with the employee.
The provisions that implement the new rights got rid of the statutory procedure for considering flexible working requests and replaced it with a requirement to deal with the application in a reasonable manner.
The 26 week qualifying period for employees to make a request for flexible working has been retained (i.e. they must have worked for you for a minimum of 26 weeks before they can make a request). Each employee can still only make one flexible working request in any 12 month period.
Here is how to handle a request for flexible working from an employee:
- Arrange to talk to your employee as soon as possible after receiving the written request (unless you’re going to approve it straight away)
- Allow your employee to be accompanied by a work colleague at any discussion
- Discuss your employee's request with him or her, where possible in private
- Consider requests carefully. Look at the benefits of the requested changes in working conditions for the employee and your business. Weigh these against any adverse business impact of implementing the changes
- Inform your employee of the decision, in writing, as soon as possible
- If you decide to grant the request, or grant it with modifications, discuss with your employee how and when the changes can be implemented. Offer a trial period for the new arrangement
- If you decide to reject the request, make sure it is for one of the business reasons permitted by legislation and allow your employee to appeal it
- Consider and decide on all requests, including any appeals, within a period of three months from initial receipt, unless an extension is agreed with your employee.
This means that you can’t just deny a request for flexible working because you don’t understand it, or you think it will have a negative impact on your business! Acas has written a number of documents that provide good advice for employers, which you can download by clicking here.
If you’re still not sure how to handle a request for flexible working, do get in touch by calling 01635 600305 or by clicking here to email us.
Practical HR – Flexibly Inflexible!
When Bill left school and started his first job, a few years ago now, you started at 9am every morning, Monday to Friday. There was a coffee break at 10.30am for 15 minutes and 30 minutes for lunch at 12.30pm. Tea break was at 3.30pm and everyone left the office at 5pm on the dot.
“Now they all seem to want to come in at different times, work through lunch and leave early every third Tuesday,” he moaned to one of his long-term members of staff, Ben. “How can I keep track of who is doing what and how hard anyone is working, if they’re not here when I expect them to be?”
“Well since you mentioned it, Boss,” enquired Ben. “Is there any chance I could knock off an hour early on Fridays from now on, to avoid the traffic on the way home? According to the new rules I’m allowed to ask this now. It will only be Fridays and I’ll come in an hour early on Friday mornings, so my total hours won’t change. You’ll be doing me a huge favour.”
“Please put your request in writing and I’ll consider it,” sighed Bill.
Employment Law Update
Employment law changes throughout the year, so here are some recent changes that you need to know about.
Pensions Auto-enrolment – If you haven’t already set up your company pension, your staging date will be getting close. Changes have been made to the planned increases in the minimum level of contribution for auto-enrolment pensions, to align the increases with the beginning of the tax year. As a result, the planned increase in October 2017, to 5% minimum contribution (2% employer), will take effect in April 2018, and the planned increase in October 2018, to 8% (3% employer), will take effect in April 2019. You can find out more here.
Free Child Care – Some working parents can receive double the current amount of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds ahead of the planned schedule. Read the details here.
Minimum Wage – Remember that the rates increased again on 1 October 2016. Click here to see the current rates.
Do you have any questions about HR or the staff in your business? Please do get in touch for a completely confidential chat by calling us on 01635 600305 or clicking here to email us.