What is flexible working?
Well, in short, flexible working is a different way of working which will suit an employee’s needs and requirements, e.g. having a flexible start and finish time, or working from home.
All employees have the legal right to request flexible working – not just parents and carers. This is known as ‘making a statutory application’. However, an employee must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks in order to be eligible.
Are there different types of flexible working?
Yes, there are indeed different types. These include: –
1. Job sharing
This means that two people carry out one job and split the hours between them.
2. Working from home
Sometimes, it can be possible for employees to do some or all of their work from home or somewhere away from the office.
I think we all know what this means, but to clarify, it is working less than full-time hours (usually by working fewer days).
4. Compressed hours
This means that an employee could work full-time hours but over fewer days, e.g. instead of working 9am until 5pm Monday to Friday, an employee could work 9am until 7pm Monday to Thursday.
In this example, an employee can choose when he or she wants to start work and when to finish work (within agreed limits) but could still work certain ‘core hours’.
6. Annualised hours
In this instance, the employee is required to work a specific number of hours over the course of the year, but they have some flexibility about when they actually carry out that work. There can be certain ‘core hours’ which they work regularly every week, and the rest they work on a flexible basis or when there’s extra demand.
7. Staggered hours
Here, the employee has different start, finish and break times from other workers.
8. Phased retirement
In this example, older staff can choose when they want to retire, and so they are able to reduce their hours and work gradually.
A flexi-time case study
Orchard Employment Law’s Personal Assistant, Lucy, works part-time and does flexi-hours at home. This is what she has to say about flexible working: –
“The one thing that I dreaded about going back to work after I had my son, was that my previous employer wouldn’t be flexible about the hours that I wanted to work and also that I would potentially need to take time off if my son was poorly etc. I basically didn’t want to be held ransom or made to feel guilty because my child needed me.
I have been working with Jemma since December 2017, working from home on Mondays and Fridays and in the office on Wednesdays.
My now three-year-old toddler goes to nursery on Mondays and Fridays (and to Nanny and Grandad’s house on Wednesdays) so working from home gives me the flexibility to be able to take him to nursery and pick him up, without the worry of having to battle rush-hour traffic and potentially being late for work.
During the nursery/school holidays, I work around my son, so will do an hour here and there when he is entertained by his toys or his own books, or I start at 7am before he wakes up and in the evenings when he has gone to bed. I also sometimes stagger my hours so that instead of doing all of them on Mondays and Fridays, I spread them out over Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. This means that I don’t miss out on spending quality time with my son, but still get my hours done.
Another advantage of flexible working and working from home is that if my son (or
myself for that matter) is poorly, I can still do my work but be at home to look after him without having to take time off sick or as a holiday.
The downside of working from home is that it can get a bit lonely at times. But Jemma and I always make sure that we talk at least once a day on the phone. And when I’m in the office on Wednesdays, I actually get to speak to adults and have a proper conversation.
I also know that if I have any issues that need to be dealt with urgently, I can email, text or phone Jemma (depending on the urgency) and not have to worry that problems won’t be dealt with until I’m actually in the office.
As some of you may know, Jemma and I have an office in a co-working space in Chatham, so when we are in the office we are able to not only bounce ideas off each other but also our co-workers, who will give us their honest opinions on our ideas and tell us if they think they will work or if we should scrap the idea completely. There are also always lots of treats in the kitchen area, which is never good for the diet, so it’s probably a good thing that I’m only in the office once a week!
Even though I only work in the office once a week, I still feel like part of a team. I do think that if I was always working from home then I would feel quite isolated and not part of a team but thankfully that’s not the case.
Flexible working with Jemma was the answer that I was looking for when I decided to get back into law after having my son. Working from home two days a week and in the office once a week is the perfect situation for me.
Prior to starting the busienss, I had experienced the benefits of working flexibly and so I knew that I wanted to use some of those principles when I became an employer. By hiring Lucy on family-friendly terms has been beneficial in many ways.
I was able to secure a high calibre employee with over 15 years of legal experience because I was forthcoming in offering a family friendly method of working. I also believe that we have less absenteeism because Lucy is able to work extra hours in her own time.
However, this way of working only works because we have the correct systems in place. We have a good, real-time computer system which allows both myself and Lucy to keep abreast of work done with clients. We keep in contact by phone regularly and we have weekly face to face meetings to discuss client updates, business development and personal development.
I would recommend flexible working to any business.
If you would like more information about flexible working or any other HR matter. Please contact us at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk