Flexible Working is a term which is popping up more and more in the media and is increasingly appearing on the agenda of many businesses. This rise has been particularly notable since the introduction of the Flexible Working Regulations 2014.
So just what is Flexible working?
Essentially Flexible Working is the deviation away from a set, Full Time and fixed working pattern. In certain situations the location that work is performed may also become flexible, such as ability to work from home or a local office.
What is Flexible Working?
There are a variety of methods for working flexibly such as:-
- Part Time – Working less than Full Time hours (either fewer days or shorter hours each day)
- Compressed Hours – Working Full Time hours but over fewer days. For instance instead of working 40 hours over 5 days (8 hours per day), you may do 40 over 4 days (10 hours per day)
- Annualised Hours – The employee has to work a set number of hours over a year but has flexibility in when they work them. In this scenario the employee would start the year with a balance of hours which they reduce to zero by working over the course of the year. There may be a month where quite a lot of hours are worked followed by a month with only a few. They are useful in industries that may have very defined spikes in demand.
- Flexitime – Within certain criteria the employee can choose when to start and finish work usually with a mandatory core time such as 10:00 and 15:00 when the employee must be in work. Outside of that the employee has freedom to work as they wish but must usually be required to complete the correct number of hours over a specified period. So a longer day can be compensated by a shorter day the next, o
- Home or Remote Working – Completing your duties away from a fixed business location. This is only an option if the type of work permits it and there is no need to physically be ‘on site’.
- Term Time Working – Here the employee is contracted to only be at work during school term times. They may be paid for what they work month by month, or they could be paid their wages evenly over the 12 months
Any employee, employed continuously for more than 26 weeks, or a carer (for a child or adult) can request a flexible working arrangement and has the legal right to do so. Although the employer does not have to agree to the request, the request must be given serious consideration. A valid reason must be provided if the employer is declining the request.
Why are we hearing about Flexible Working more and more?
There are two main groups were the need for a more flexible arrangement to working time has sprouted. Firstly many employees, both through choice and necessity, need to work until later in life. Rather than work to a full time pattern they make themselves available on a more flexible basis which suits both them and their employer who can utilise the skills and experience as required. The second group were demand is the highest is young families. With soaring costs of childcare many parents now need the flexibility to work around their children.
Flexible working has actually been around for quite a long time, but traditionally, in a flexitime sense, has only really been utilised by office based environments. It is now expanding rapidly into other industries and sectors. Partly due to the Flexible Working Regulations 2014 and partly as these employers see the benefits Flexible Working can have.
What are the benefits of Flexible Working?
Flexible working provides an array of benefits to both employer and employee. The employee finds it easier to strike an ideal work life balance, finding it easier to juggle work commitments with home life. They could find a reduction in childcare and fuel/transport costs, and a reduction in commuting can improve productivity. These benefits lead to a more engaged and satisfied employee which in turn becomes the benefit to the employer. Having a content and happy workforce can result in a number of benefits to the employer including:-
- improved productivity,
- reduced overtime costs,
- increased staff retention,
- reduced absenteeism and
- improved customer service as employees working times are spread throughout the day.
Managing your Flexible Working Time Arrangements.
Flexitime and annualised hours need an effective means of managing and controlling the time worked. Ensuring compliance with criteria such as core time and managing each employee’s ongoing balance of hours is crucial. A good workforce management or flexitime system will allow an automated way for the employee to record their start and finish times. These working times should then be processed against their individual rules. A good system will give employee and employer a real time view of their current position and allow for clear absence and resource planning.
The system should be able to cater for effective shift management in the case of part time