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Could Flexible Working Cause Problems?

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The right to request flexible working hours has now been made available for all UK employees with more than six months’ service. Previously, only carers and those looking after children could exercise this right.

The change - which could affect up to 20 million people according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills - is expected to boost morale and in turn increase productivity in the workplace. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “It’s about time we brought working practices bang up-to-date with the needs, and choices, of our modern families.”  

The new right simply means that employers must consider requests ‘in a reasonable manner’.  It remains to be seen exactly how Employment Tribunals will interpret this, as this new right must be balanced with the fact that employers retain the right to say no in circumstances where the company genuinely could not grant the request.

Trade unions and employment groups have welcomed the move, although some believe that more needs to be done to ensure that employees’ requests will be treated fairly. This is because there has been no right conferred to enable employees to challenge their employer’s decision if their request for flexible working hours is rejected. Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s general secretary, recommended that the Government address this potential downfall for employees by introducing the right to a fair hearing.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has also raised concerns, saying that there are a number of small businesses throughout the UK that will be unable to grant flexible working hours to staff, whether it be through costs or other practical realities of their business, making it impossible.  The right to request flexible working hours could therefore place a strain on such businesses, and result in a “negative dynamic” where requests are denied, the FSB warned.

Flexible Working Advice in Glasgow

For advice in relation to flexible working, or any other employment law matter, please contact our Glasgow based solicitors today by completing our online enquiry form or calling 0141 576 4808.

We have specialised for 10 years in providing employment law advice and representation at Employment Tribunals. We provide employment law advice both to employers and to employees.

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