Going from today forward, any employee that has been working at their place of employment for 6 months or more will have the right extended to them for flexible working hours. This includes part time hours, compressed hours, working from home or job sharing, which was previously only offered to carers, or those who had children.
It seems that the implementation of these new laws are drawing very diverse reactions. Many seem to believe that this will make workers happier, which will in turn boost productivity. “Modern businesses know that flexible working boosts productivity and staff morale, and helps them keep their top talent so that they can grow,” said Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. This extension will be of particular interest to new, young workers who want additional training as they work, to those older employees who are nearing retirement, or to those who also do volunteering.
It will also reduce the stress of travel during the rush hour times, and it may also has the potential to benefit businesses £55.8m, although this should be treated with the caution due to all economic projections.
However, as many positives as this change may bring, there is also worry of a projected backlash against it. Because more requests will come in, unfortunately, some requests will have to be denied – which could cause a negative atmosphere in the workplace. The new legislation states that all employees have the right to request flexible hours, not the right to have it, and requests will be looked at in a first come, first serve basis. The company has to give each request fair consideration and if the request cannot be granted, there are 8 specific reasons that the company will be allowed to give, including costs or inability to move staff around for coverage.
A new study, done by the law firm Squire Batton Boggs, surveyed over 100 companies in the UK and found that 84% of the employers thought that the changes would cause large resentment among their staff. Fraser Younson, an employment law specialist and partner at the law firm Squire Patton Boggs, said: ‘With everyone able to request flexible working, the number of grievances is only set to rise.’
It may also be a real struggle with smaller businesses, where it might cause an additional administrative burden if they don’t have the man power to help comply with requests, or the money. As a lot of companies already offer some time of flexible working to their staff, many don’t feel that this is a change in the right direction.
Neil Carberry, the CBI director for employment and skills, welcomed the new rules but also warned: ‘It’s important to remember that the work still needs to be done, so businesses will have to manage conflicting requests effectively and they retain the right to say no where the company just can’t make it work.’
What do you think? Will this help or hinder the relationships in the workplace?
MaryEllen Fenton | Strike-Jobs.co.uk Journalist