Hybrid & Flexible Working


Hybrid Working

With employers looking to get their staff back into work and employees believing that they can continue to work from home on a more long-term basis where does it leave businesses?

The best way to deal with this is on a case-by-case basis. Start to open up the communicational channels now to engage with staff. What works for one may not fit for another and what works for an employee may not work for the business. Its not about compromise but it is being mindful of how to get the most out of staff. Do you really want to lose your best asset because you think that working from home doesn’t fit with your culture?
Although the way we work has changed since the Pandemic, the regulations of making a Flexible Working Request hasn’t. This is not to say it won’t in the future.

Any employee with 26 continuous weeks service has the right to make a flexible working request. This should be in writing. The employer should meet and discuss this request, looking at what the employee is proposing and consider the request against the business needs.

It is always a good idea to trial any agreed new way of working for these reason:
• Eliminate any ambiguity in the new way of working
• Adjustments to the new way of working can be made
• Only one request allowed per employee in a 12-month period so better to get it right first time
• An employer will be in a better position to reject the request if it becomes apparent during the trial that any of the eight business reasons below apply

1. The burden of additional costs
You can refuse a flexible working request if it places a financial burden on your business. For example, if accepting a flexible working request meant that your business had to absorb additional costs of engaging with a recruitment agency or paying other employees to work overtime at a premium rate, you’re allowed to refuse the request.

2. An inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
If a staff member, with specific skills wanted to work flexibly how easy would it be for you to rearrange their work amongst existing staff? If the answer is “it isn’t” or “we tried and failed” then this is another legitimate reason for refusing a flexible working request.

3. An inability to recruit additional staff
If an employee submits a flexible working request to have a two hour lunch break everyday, as opposed to their contracted one hour, how would you go about recruiting someone to work just one hour per day? It would of course be impractical and consequently this is a justified reason to refuse a flexible working request. Of course the fact that you have shown you have tried to recruit will always strengthen your case.

4. A detrimental impact on quality
A head of department or a customer-facing manager wishes to work two days per week. Will customers suffer because that employee is absent for three days of the working week? If you fail to recruit for the remaining three days and the reduced working hours would have a detrimental impact on your customers, you can refuse the request. This is a reason for refusal that we have often come across in our years in HR.

5. A detrimental impact on performance
This one is straightforward. If it’s going to have a significant impact on an employee’s ability to carry out their role, the request should be rejected.

6. Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
This is common particularly in the hospitality industry. Most restaurants are busiest on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. If an employee submits a request to work on Mondays and Tuesdays only, this will prevent the business from meeting their customer demand during their busiest periods and a request can be refused on these grounds.

7. Insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
I’ll use the example above whereby an employee at a restaurant requests to work on a Monday and Tuesday only. If there isn’t sufficient work to be carried out during the periods an employee is requesting to work, you can refuse the request.

8. Planned structural changes to the business
If you’re going through a restructure or a redundancy, these are legitimate reasons to refuse a flexible working request.

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