New UK Flexible Working Rights — A Round Up

June 30th saw the right to request flexible working enshrined in UK law. Here we provide a brief round up of some of the resources and comment that appeared in response.

ACAS provide a useful overview of what this means for employers and employees, the key points being that:

  • Requests and appeals must be considered and decided upon within three months of the receipt of the request
  • Employers must have a sound business reason for rejecting any request
  • Employees can only make one request in any 12 month period

While have a handy factsheet you can download.

The UK Government’s Business is Great Britiain website extols some of the virtues of flexible working for both employers and employees: it helps people achieve a better work-life balance and its helps reduce staff turnover. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills suggests that flexible working can help businesses attract and keep staff required to move into high valued added sectors.

Others, however, struck a more cautious note.

There is concern that flexible working might impose an administrative burden on small businesses:

Commenting on the changes Phil Orford MBE, chief executive of the Forum of Private Business, said: “… extending the right to request flexible working to all employees will simply make the consideration process the employer needs to follow more complicated and time-consuming and only add to the administrative pressures already felt by many small business owners…”

There are further concerns that changes create difficult management decisions that could potentially alienate workers and could make businesses open to discrimination cases.

WAF Project’s Heejung Chung, suggests that flexible working may be detrimental to individual workers, blurring the boundaries between work and life:

Flexible work can mean a move from time based work … to task based work – working anywhere and anytime you want but having clearer list of tasks to complete. For some, this means workers themselves have the responsibility to set their own working hours, but this freedom could also end up with “work that never ends”.

Finally, Zafia Barojek questions whether these changes will even work: that there must be a shift in management and staff attitudes to flexible working for outcomes to prove a net positive.