Changes in Flexible Working Legislation

The Government has recently announced plans to extend flexible working rights from 2014. ‘Flexible working’ is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, for example, working from home or having flexible start and finish times. Historically, only employees with dependants under the age of 17 years have had the right to request flexible working. From the 30th June 2014, this right is to be extended to all employees.

The true impact of the new legislation is unknown at this stage. Flexible working may seem an appealing prospect to many employees, however, the practicalities of working unusual hours and being able to complete a job effectively will be a considerable factor in its success. The new legislation only gives employees the right to request flexible working. With genuine business reason, flexible working requests can be turned down by the employer, however the reasons and process must be fully documented.

In a recent survey results revealed that 26% of British workers plan to request flexible working once the new legislation comes into force, and there are a lot of advantages to embracing the change. Allowing flexible working can help to reduce sickness and absence, create a better work-life balance for employees and increase staff morale. Of course, for some companies, allowing flexible working may not be a viable option for the nature of their business. However, many employers could benefit from introducing flexible working, with careful management to ensure core business hours are covered, such as through job share and part time workers.

In cases where flexible working is not appropriate, employers could look at alternative solutions such as offering a salary sacrifice holiday purchase scheme. Holiday purchase schemes enable employees to purchase additional holiday entitlement to use as and when they need it, without having a significant effect on working hours. This can allow employees to achieve a greater work-life balance, with minimal financial impact. Employees can spread the cost of their holiday purchase across the year, and do not have to pay tax and National Insurance on their purchased amount. Another benefit of the scheme is that it also reduces the annual salary bill for the employer. As with flexible working hours, holiday purchase schemes can promote a happier and more productive workforce.

After the success of our in-house holiday purchase scheme, we developed our ‘HolidayFlex’ product, so that other employers can share the benefits we have experienced, without handling the administrative burden. This can be a great solution for employers who are unable to offer flexible working hours for business reasons, but would still like to help their employees achieve a better work-life balance.

Alison Chalmers, Wider Plan

Author: Helen Douglas, Wider Plan Ltd

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