A recent YouGov survey has found that only 6% of 4,000 employees surveyed work between the traditional hours of 9am-5pm.
When asked to describe their ideal working hours, 37% chose 8am-4pm as their preferred working hours, 21% prefer working 7am-3pm whilst only 16% prefer the traditional 9am-5pm hours. 11% prefer working 10am-6pm.
When asked what UK adults think a job would need to offer for it to be considered a “good job”, a sociable and friendly working environment and high pay came out joint top (63%), followed by flexibility to work the hours and patterns that suit them (61%) and a convenient location (60%).
Flexible working arrangements are admired for their work life balance and these statistics indicate that this remains high on the agenda. The effects of flexible working are well established and include improved staff productivity and engagement. As such an employer may wish to consider offering prospective and current employees flexible working.
Examples of flexible working include:
• Compressed hours, whereby employees work full time hours but over less days
• Flexitime, whereby employees choose when to start and finish work
• Job sharing, where two people to do one job but split the hours
• Working from home
• Changing to part time hours
• Working night shifts
It is important to note that there is no legal right for employees to work flexibly, there is only a right to request flexible working.
Employees are eligible to submit a request for flexible working provided they have at least 26 weeks continuous employment and have not made an application to work flexibly during the preceding 12 months.
An employee’s request must be dealt with in a reasonable manner and the employer must notify the outcome to the employee within a 3-month decision period, or such longer period as may be agreed between the parties.
Whilst there is no statutory definition of how to deal with a request in a reasonable manner, employers should follow the ACAS Guide and Code of Practice on handling requests to work flexibly.
Section 80G(1)(b) of The Employment Rights Act 1996 provides legitimate business reasons for rejecting a request and only these grounds may be relied on by an employer to reject a flexible working request. The accepted business grounds include:
• The burden of additional costs.
• Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand.
• Inability to reorganise work among existing staff.
• Inability to recruit additional staff.
• Detrimental impact on quality.
• Detrimental impact on performance.
• Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work.
• Planned structural changes
Employers should ensure they have evidence to back up their legitimate business reason for rejection.