Will your business reap the benefits of the new flexible working laws?

On 30 June 2014, new laws came into force which extend the right to request flexible working to any employee with more than 26 weeks’ service.
Under the new laws, employees with the requisite service can make one flexible working request each year for whatever reason they like. Employers then have three months from receipt of the request in which to consider it. The eight business reasons for which an employer may reject the request remain unchanged.

Whereas previously, employers only had to deal with requests from those employees who were parents or carers of adults, they could now be faced with requests from employees who want to spend more time in the garden, coach their son’s football team or write a novel perhaps.

Many commentators have focused on the numerous challenges that this new legislation will present for employers such as the prospect of dealing with competing requests and the discrimination issues that this could give rise to.

However, when considering such requests, employers should be aware that research indicates that there are many positive business benefits associated with a more flexible workforce, such as:

·         Greater staff loyalty and improved retention rates;

·         Higher levels of employee satisfaction resulting in more positive client feedback;

·         Reduced stress and therefore fewer days lost to absence;

·         Higher levels of productivity; and

·         Substantial cost savings through reduced office space.
It is hoped that employers will embrace the opportunities that this new legislation provides rather than simply viewing it as an administrative nightmare.

Camilla Beamish