Flexible working: bad for business?

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The right to request flexible working has been with us since 6 April 2003 and from 30 June 2014 was extended so that employees could effectively make requests for any reason (rather than just for childcare reasons as was the position previously).

Clients often call me concerned as to the damage flexible working might do to their business.Requests commonly relate to changed hours or home working.

It can be overlooked that an employer is perfectly entitled to decline a request provided that one of the eight statutory grounds applies.These grounds are business orientated and so if the request is going to adversely affect service levels or productivity or cause internal resource issues, the employer can say no.

Alternatively, the employer can suggest an alternative approach to balance the needs of the business and the employee.

It can then be agreed that there should be a trial period to see if the new arrangements work in practice.

Often, the requests come from employees with child or relative caring responsibilities or those suffering from a long term illness.If the request is not dealt with properly, this can give rise to costly discrimination claims.And an employee who feels that their proposal has not been properly considered may be demotivated and disengaged, which is bad for any business.

So it is always best to take flexible working requests seriously and give them due consideration knowing that ultimately if a proposal does not work for the business, it can be rejected.

For advice on Employment law issues, please contact Richard Gvero, Joint Senior Partner and Head of Employment.

Please note the contents of this blog are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.