Flexible working hours apply to everyone now

Flexible hours could include working from home on some days. Flexible hours could include working from home on some days.

Friday, July 4, 2014
2:24 PM

Another milestone in the changing face of the modern work place was reached yesterday with the introduction of new rules giving all employees the right to request flexible working.

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Previously only carers or those looking after small children could request to work flexibly.

But the coalition government has changed all that in a move ministers believe will particularly benefit older people seeking to scale back their hours as they approach retirement, and also enable companies to retain staff for longer.

The government also believes it will appeal to young people who may want to take up additional training or learning while they work, or those hoping to pursue other interests such as voluntary and community work.

But will it work or is there a danger of unleashing a flexible working free-for-all on businesses? So far the response from employer groups has been largely positive.

Any request will have to be considered in a “reasonable manner” by employers, and the process is being made simpler, while the conciliation service Acas has produced a guide offering advice on how to handle requests.

Paula Lee, an employment law specialist at Leathes Prior in Norwich, said the biggest impact could be on the male workforce and changing the perception that flexible working was mostly for women.

And she expected that could be felt next year when new rules allowing parents to split maternity and paternity leave come into force.

“It’s a massive change which is going to affect all employees with more than 26 weeks service,” she said. “If men start to ask to work flexibly it will help massively. We need men in senior positions to take advantage of their right to request flexible working.

“But we have to be careful that we don’t end up with the worst of all worlds. It’s very easy to say no to a request for flexible working, but still expect employees to respond to emails in the evenings.

“The big hurdle to overcome is old- fashioned businessmen, who equate being at work with commitment to the business. If you moved to task- based working instead of time-based work, that could be very interesting.”

She also believed the changes could highlight the generational divide, saying: “I think it will be generational, for those in their mid to late 40s they are still hung up on the idea of demonstrating a commitment to the business, but I think the younger generation will approach it differently.”

• What do you think? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk

11 comments

  • It is only the right to request flexible working. Employers do not have to automatically grant it. If it is not right for the business then they can refuse it. Che, this article has nothing whatsoever to do with zero hours contracts, so why are you rabbiting on about them? Try to keep the debate in context!

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    IT Man

    Friday, July 4, 2014

  • I have just done a search and Windless owns a company called Twitters Independent Traders or T.I.T for short

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    che bramley

    Thursday, July 3, 2014

  • perhaps this can apply to the lazy layabouts in the job centres (not the staff !!!) may be their human rights to sign on after Jeremy Kyle

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    London in Norfolk

    Wednesday, July 2, 2014

  • Windless I agree with V you sound a boss from hell, and I would laugh if your business went under and you found yourself in the queue at the local jobcentre wanting to claim JSA. Mind you if I was a worker there and you saw me for your attitude alone I would sanction you for 3 years just to make you suffer. Seems you have no respect for any of your workers. You sound like a class one, rhymes with Anchor !

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    che bramley

    Wednesday, July 2, 2014

  • Windless is typical of the useless bosses in this area who have no regard to the law and like to think of themselves as being above not only the law but everyone else. I hope your company goes under, big time.

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    "V"

    Wednesday, July 2, 2014

  • If you worked for me and wanted flexible time, you wouldn't pass your next HR appraisal and you'd be out of the door. there are many wanting YOUR job!

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    Windless

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • Norfolk John employers are the ones taking advantage of the new legislation changes over zero hr contracts and ending exclusivity clauses in workers contracts. Workers are still not guaranteed a set amount of hrs each week, how can anyone with a family or a mortgage ever budget and save for the future when they do not know what income they receive week on week. People who work like this end up claiming in work benefits which oh the Tories and Taxpayers never moan about. It is well known people in these so called zero hr contracts still claim council tax and housing benefit and in some cases JSA cause they only do 5 hrs one week, nothing the next then 12 the week after. Workers need reliability not uncertainty and people need to realise that just cause their work life is perfect with set hrs and decent pay not everyone has this ! £world in Norwich has decided to reduce working hrs for some staff to 8 hrs a week, but expect them to work 15-20 free like who do they think they are to even put staff into that position. Of course if the employee does not do these free hrs, they fail their probationary period or get shown the door. So there is a lot to be said about certain companies and there needs to be more employment laws protecting the employee not the employer as it currently now stands. For all those doubters speak to someone on a zero hr contract, discuss their finances and how life for them is an uncertain one. But clearly if you are Tory minded then you won't care anyway !

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    che bramley

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • Yet another step on the downward slide into chaos for SME's. If someone doesn’t want to work the hours required by their employer, they should seek another job.

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    Norfolk John

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • "right to request" is not the same as "entitled to". Sounds more like the touchy fely Lib Dems rather than the Conservatives. Bad news for small business..

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    Andy T

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • Chloe was obviously waiting for you to chip in Che.

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    Piranha24

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

  • So exclusivity zero hour contracts will come to an end. So employers using them will find other ways to reduce hours or sack staff if they do not do the shifts the employer demands. Come on Archant tell the truth over these contracts, and not pander to the whim of the Tory Government. When can we expect to see Chloe Smith putting her point of view on here?

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    che bramley

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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