Workers get right to ask for flexible work

New rules giving all employees the right to request flexible working came into force on 30 June. 

Previously, only carers and parents with children under the age of 18 had the right to request flexible hours. 

Any employee who has worked with the same employer for more than 26 weeks can now make a statutory application. 

Under the law, employers are being asked to deal with requests in a 'reasonable manner'. The government published a code of practice telling employers how best to handle requests. 

If the employer does not reasonably deal with the request, the employee can take the issue to an employment tribunal. 

With improved broadband provision and the growing popularity of cloud accounting packages, smartphones and tablets, flexible working has gained momentum in recent years. 

Penny de Valk, managing director of HR services group Penna, praised the legislation on our sister site HR Zone.co.uk for simplifying a policy that previously lacked clarity.

She gave a few tips on how businesses can make the best use of the new rules, which included:

  • Running trials with selected individuals or groups: If you get a handful of requests, try it over a fixed period, monitor its performance and make changes if necessary. Once you've determined if it works for one or a few employees, you can see if it may work for others
  • Set business goals: Give the employee clear and easily measurable business goals. Make sure and let them know they need to check-in and perhaps give them a project they'd be best working at home on - the rules can work well for businesses in addition to employees, this way
  • Forget presenteeism: Finding a way of working that works for both the employer and employee is vital. Everyone is different and they need to find the best style of work to suit them in order to feel in control of their own career. This control is empowering and in itself prompts a greater level of productivity and engagement. You do still need flexible workers to be in the office sometimes, so ensuer they use the time effectively for collaborative activities
  • Empower managers: Ensure managers have a thorough knowledge of the policy and how to deal with requests and monitor flexible workers. Consider extra training to support them if needed.

To read the full article, visit HR Zone.

What do you think of the new changes? Will you be - as an employer or employee - taking advantage of the new rules?