The Right to Flexible Working: Blessing or Curse?

Posted on: August 19th, 2014 by Jessica

As of Monday 30th June 2014 a new law came into place giving all employees the right to request flexible working; a perk previously only offered to parents and carers.

The new law allows anyone who has worked at their company for more than 26 weeks to request changes to their work hours and location. Employers can take 3 months to consider the request and can decline if there is a legitimate reason, but they must treat each request reasonably.

Many companies across the UK already have a certain degree of flexible working in place. At the Business Space, we are occasionally required to work outside of regular 9-5 hours for events and are able to take these hours back as Time Out in Lieu when we choose, provided that we have agreed this with a manager and customer service at the venue will not be compromised.

As part of The Cornwall College Group we are also able to hot desk at other college sites and occasionally work from home.

The new flexible working policy is a great step forward for equality in the workplace, acknowledging that all employees need to find a comfortable work/life balance, not just those with children.

It also allows employees to skip their dreaded commute by requesting to work from home or at least cut down on the time taken to travel in by opting to start later or leave earlier to miss the traffic of rush hour.

There’s good news for employers too, studies show that organisations operating a flexible working policy prior to the change in legislation reported a boost in staff morale and productivity.

A 2011 survey conducted by Regus showed that 70% of managers who had switched to flexible working said they felt their employees had become more productive and 47% of employees said that they tended to make more phone calls and write more emails when working out of the office to prove they weren’t slacking off.The survey also concluded that flexible working improves employee retention rates and helps attract new talent to companies.

However, for employers navigating the red tape of handling all requests reasonably, whilst still granting flexible work hours to those who need it most, the new flexible working policy may bring on a bit of a headache.

Not to mention the possibility of the policy causing resentment between co-workers who may have had their request for flexible working denied or feel like they are picking up the slack for others with less hours.

So what do you think of the new flexible working policy? Will you be requesting to change anything or are you happy with things as they are?