The Government has extended the right to request flexible working hours. Previously only carers and employees with children could ask employers for flexible hours.
The Government has extended the right to request flexible working hours. Previously only carers and employees with children could ask employers for flexible hours. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills estimated 20 million people now have the right to ask their employers if they can work flexible hours. This request must also be considered ‘in a reasonable manner.’
Unions and employment groups across the UK have welcomed the extension. Anyone who has worked for more than six months with a company can now ask to work flexible hours. It is thought the extension of flexi hours will be of interest to older workers nearing retirement age. However, it may also benefit younger workers keen to undertake additional training while working.
Ministers hope extending the right to flexible working hours to all employees will help companies retain staff and keep more people in long-term employment. Flexible working hours can help employees manage their home life and fit it in around their work life.
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said; “Modern businesses know that flexible working boosts productivity and staff morale, and helps them keep their top talent so that they can grow”. He went on to say; “It’s about time we brought working practices bang up-to-date with the needs, and choices, of our modern families.”
In an interview following the announcement Liesl Smith from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) told the BBC; “We know from our own membership that more than three quarters of our members offer flexible working but there will be a small number of small businesses who just will not be able to do that, whether it’s through cost or just from balancing their teams.”
The FSB highlighted some concerns about additional administrative tasks requests for flexible working hours may put on small businesses. It also points out the possibility of a ‘negative dynamic’ in the workplace if employees are refused the right to work flexible hours they might hold this against employers. The TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady said; “Unfortunately the right to request is only the right to ask nicely. There is nothing to stop employers saying no.”
Image By Peter Bennets (Commissioned Professional Photography) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons