Covid-19: Flexible working

03 June 2020 | Anoop Sodhi

The Coronavirus epidemic has forced many businesses to look at new ways of working to ensure that business needs are met.

Working from home

One way to ensure work gets done is to get staff to work from home.

There is a plethora of staff who are able to work from home namely office staff.  Provided that office staff have access to a laptop, internet and phone this strong possibility has turned into a proven reality and success for many.  However, it is also worth noting that one size does not fit all, for example factory operatives cannot work from home, so there needs to be a degree of sensibility about this.

The way we work has evolved and changed. The traditional Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm has reduced and employers have had to become flexible to the employees needs as well as the business. 

Flexible working

With the recent announcements from the Prime Minister to encourage workers to start to return back to some normality namely to go back to work, employees now question the possibility of a permanent flexible working status and to continue to work from home with reduced working hours.

There are many positives as to working from home as, for example, it cuts the commute time, assists with family work life balance and more importantly, reduces the spread of coronavirus.  Some staff have commented that their mental well being has improved with this flexibility. Should employees wish to approach management about the possibility of continuing to work from home on a permanent basis, employees must make a flexible working application. 

The law states any employee with 26 weeks continuous service has the statutory right to apply for flexible working.  Employees can make one written request per year.  The flexible working application is available online to use.  An employee does not need to give a reason why they wish to make a request. 

The Employer should review the request and it should be dealt within a 3 month period.  Should the employer agree, it is wise to confirm the agreement in writing.

The Employer can decline the request based on 8 business reasons as detailed below.

  • burden of additional costs;
  • inability to re organise work among existing staff;
  • inability to recruit additional staff;
  • detrimental impact on quality;
  • detrimental impact on performance;
  • detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
  • insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work; or
  • planned structural changes.

Employers must think rationally before considering rejecting homeworking more so now as reliable business sources have highlighted the success in this new method of working since Covid-19. Many employers are now embracing this as a new agile way of working as the reality is staff can be trusted to work from home and to get their work done. 

For further advice and guidance on flexible working and the easing of the lockdown restrictions; call the advice line on 01455852028.

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Anoop is an experienced HR Advisor and is part of the Telephone Advice Line Team. Anoop has worked in both the public and private sector, providing Employment Law advice ranging from grievances, disciplinaries, performance management, attendance management and mediation. Anoop is a trained mediator and provides down to earth, pragmatic, commercial advice. Outside of work, Anoop actively participates as a CIPD Board Member of East Midlands.

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