New Flexible Working Rules Explained

On Monday 30 June 2014, new regulations came into force regarding flexible working hours. Now all employees who have been with you for at least 26 weeks can request flexibility in the hours they work. Previously only parents or other carers could expect this to be considered and granted. Now this category of employee no longer has to be given priority as every request must be considered on its merits.

You Don’t Have to Agree

Clearly, allowing this will be more difficult for entrepreneurs with small businesses and therefore fewer staff and resources. But you must give all such requests reasonable consideration, and you can only deny them for valid business reasons. These might be that there won’t be enough work to do through the proposed new hours of work, while you won’t be able to meet customer demand outside those hours. You can’t get the work covered by your current staff, and you can’t recruit more staff because you can’t afford it. Work performance and overall business performance will suffer.

If you really can’t allow flexible working, you are less likely to attract the best people, so it will be worth making what efforts you can to accommodate requests. Perhaps your outsourced bookkeepers can help if you discuss your needs with them.

Jo Swinson, the business minister, has said, “Firms that embrace flexible working are more likely to attract and retain the best talent and reap the benefits of a more motivated workforce. Employees will benefit from being able to balance work with other commitments in their lives. It also helps drive a cultural shift where flexible working becomes the norm.”

Flexible Working Versus Flexitime

Flexitime has been operating, mostly in large companies, for a number of years. This is where everyone has to work in set core hours and can make up their specified work time at their convenience. It is different to the current concept of flexible working, which can mean working at home or in places other than the business premises, as well as being able to work outside the standard hours or on certain days of the week.

Employees will appreciate not having to travel to work every day of the week, or being able to start earlier or later than normal. Directors and managers will have to find ways to make it work wherever possible. Outsourcing some further aspects of back office work could be the answer for some, and outsourced bookkeepers may be happy to undertake this.

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