In the Queen’s speech later today we are expecting family friendly rights to be on the agenda. In particular, we will find out if the Government is going to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees. The CIPD believes that this would be a good move as research shows that flexible working supports employee retention, motivation and engagement.
Under current legislation, employees have a statutory right to request a flexible working pattern if they have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service and have or expect to have parental responsibility for a child aged under 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled).
The right also applies to employees who care for adults, for example, an elderly parent. There are many different types of flexible working including working part time, flexitime, home working, mobile working, term-time working, job share, and compressed hours. When an employee with a statutory right requests flexible working, the employer has to follow a certain process and can only refuse the request under certain circumstances.
At the moment any employee can request flexible working but if there is no statutory right to request it then the employer does not have to follow the statutory process of holding a formal meeting and responding within certain timeframes. If the right is extended to all employees then it is likely that employers will have to spend a lot more time managing requests to cope with a potentially increased number of requests which need to be managed in a particular way.
Employers who are ignorant of the statutory process may find they are more exposed to claims from employees who feel their request has not been properly dealt with. Research shows that offering flexible working can help organisations to attract talent when recruiting. Some people believe it can reduce absenteeism. People without children or dependants may have other responsibilities or interests which mean that flexible working is attractive to them.
It is worth considering if flexible working could benefit your organisation and if so how this would work and what sort of flexibility you can offer. Solve the problems of compliance, updates and practical planning of employment matters at a stroke, give us a call.
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