Making a success of flexible working

Providing flexible working opportunities for employees is not only the law, it can also benefit the business, according to employed parents charity Working Families.

Working Families (WF), which is supported by the Department of Trade & Industry, believes that changes in legislation that came into effect last year to help parents also help the business itself. The changes meant that statutory maternity leave was extended, paternity leave was introduced for the first time and parents could request flexible working hours and even teleworking.

Among the flexible working options are part-time working, flexitime, time off in lieu (TOIL), homeworking, term-time working and job sharing. WF has produced guides on its website to show how small businesses can implement this sort of flexible working as a mutually beneficial system.

A seven-step plan is provided to help employers set up and maintain a flexible working policy:

  1. Define the policy – Write down in just a few lines what your policy is so existing and new employees know exactly where they stand and also know that the same rules apply to all employees.
  2. Set out a request system – Create a clear system that enables employees to make requests easily and that allows managers to deal with requests with a minimum of fuss.
  3. Agree the arrangement with the employee – Provide the employee with a written statement of terms and conditions containing a description of any flexible working practices. This is a legal obligation.
  4. Communicate any new working arrangements to other staff and customers.
  5. Ensure good communication between employees – This can include arranging meetings for times when flexible workers are available and updating them if they have missed any important information.
  6. Ensure that flexible workers know they have a responsibility to make the system work, for example, by asking colleagues what has happened while they have not been there.
  7. Deal with any abuses quickly – If you suspect a flexible worker is abusing the system, say, by being later than agreed, speak to them as soon as possible and remind them of the agreement and their responsibilities. It is important to address these issues early as other employees may become resentful.

For more advice on flexible working, click here.

See also: Is flexible working more valuable to employees than a pay rise?

Nick Britton

Alba Harber

Nick was the Managing Editor for our sister website when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence...

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