Has your business embraced flexible working?

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All employees that have been employed for 26 weeks or more have the right to request flexible working patterns, without having to give any reason.

However, research released today by pollster GQR for the Trades Union Congress has found that flexible working is unavailable to 58% of the UK workforce, rising to 64% of those in working class occupations. As a right only given to employees, many individuals do not have the power to make requests, and when they do, requests are often unreasonably denied.

Flexible working has been found to have been a very important factor when people select where to work; and it has increasingly not just been an issue for parents. Furthermore it can be strikingly important for businesses – in July 2019, Harvard Business School research found that letting parent examiners work from anywhere brought in £108m in extra fee revenue and reduced hiring costs by 4.4%.

The Flex for All alliance now features the TUC, Pregnant then Screwed, the Fawcett Society, Mother Pukka, the Young Women’s Trust and the Fatherhood Institute. The alliance is campaigning for a change in the law so that flexible working is open to all workers as a day one right. This is likely to cause concern amongst employer groups, and would require a more progressive government to bring it forwards. However, given this movement towards everyone working more flexibly, businesses might be well advised to consider whether they can offer flexible working solutions to employees, and genuinely consider any applications that are made, rather than being fearful of them.

If you require more advice on flexible working policies, or have received a flexible working request and are not sure how to respond, please contact Lucy Pakes of Ashtons HR Consulting or Jessica Piper of Ashtons Legal.

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