Flexible working – updated 2024

May 16, 2024 | Blog, Legal Updates

I must admit when I hear flexible working I imagine an office full of yogis or gymnasts which would be fun – triple somersaults all over the place. In 2024 flexible working is a hot topic. Covid showed us that not all jobs had to be done at a desk in an office from 9-5, some do obviously but those that don’t also offer an opportunity to be flexible.

The very definition of flexible means that one size will not fit all, one person may prefer to work mornings, next person will prefer 3 longer days and someone else might request an extra hour around lunch to facilitate school pick up.

This sounds like a headache and will unfortunately involve a lot of planning and work on your part but consider the cost of recruiting and training a new staff member and then you may realise flexible working is the best option for your team.

Now that’s not to say your team get to dictate but you have to at least consider their request.

Flexible working could take different forms such as

Part time – Working less than full-time hours (usually by working fewer days).

Flexitime – The employee chooses when to start and end work (within agreed limits) but works certain ‘core hours’, for example 10am to 4pm every day.

Job share – two people do one job and split hours

Compressed hours – Working full-time hours but over fewer days.

Working from home – It might be possible to do some or all of the work from home or anywhere else other than the normal place of work.

Annualised hours – The employee has to work a certain number of hours over the year but they have some flexibility about when they work. There are sometimes ‘core hours’ which the employee regularly works each week, and they work the rest of their hours flexibly or when there’s extra demand at work.

Staggered hours – The employee has different start, finish and break times from other workers.

Phased retirement – Default retirement age has been phased out and older workers can choose when they want to retire. This means they can reduce their hours and work part time.

What’s new?

From 6th April 2024 Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 come into force meaning that The existing 26-week minimum period of service for employees to request flexible working will be removed

This means that flexible working requests will become a “day one” right so an employee can request flexible working as soon as they start.

In addition, employees will be able to make two flexible working requests (rather than just one as at present) in any 12-month period. Only one request can be in progress at any time and

Employees will no longer be required, as at present, to identify the effects of the proposed change and suggest how the employer might deal with them.

From an employer point of view you will be required to ‘consult’ with employees before rejecting any request, although the Act does not include any details of what this consultation process should involve and

Employers will be required to respond to a request within two months rather than three months as currently applies, subject to an agreed extension which is probably a good idea as it’s not ideal deferring a decision for no good reason.

If a flexible working request is granted it is permanent and requires a change to terms and conditions.

If the request is denied a clear explanation must be offered as to why it will not work eg

Extra costs

Flexible working will affect quality and performance

Unable to share work among staff due to skills/working hours.

If flexible working is a success the result would be happy staff and a happy employer!

Contact us for help or to see how flexible working would look for your business.

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