As of 2007, parents with children under 6, or those with disables children under 18, have the right to request flexible working hours. This even extends to adults under certain circumstances.
Flexible working offers options that are meant to help employees balance their work and home lives and is therefore particularly valuable for parents of young children, or those looking after the elderly of have disabled family dependent on them, where the normal 9-5 working hours may not be suitable.
What Can Be Asked For
Employees must firstly be eligible. The following is a list of SOME of the reasons an employee may be eligible for flexible working hours:
• Of a child under 6, or disabled child under 18
• Be responsible for the upbringing of the child
• Be either parent, adopter, guardian, special guardian or foster parent of child, or married to the partner of one of the child’s biological parents or adopter, guardian etc.
• Must be or expect to be caring for spouse, partner, civil partner or relative, or
• Live in the same address as adult in your care if not spouse, partner etc.
Employees can request flexible working hours, working from home, job sharing with another person working a set number of hours per year rather than per week, and not have to work during school holidays.
Do You Have To Accept?
No, but you must have a good reason not to accept. A certain procedure must be followed, which is designed to ensure the request is taken seriously and make sure everyone involved is on the same page.
As an employer, you can only reject the application if there is a recognised business ground for doing so and your employee understands why they have been rejected the right. If not, you could face a tribunal.
What Else To Bear In Mind?
Always be aware of the Sex Discrimination Act. A woman that can’t continue working her usual working pattern due to family commitments may try and claim under this Act if flexible working hours are rejected unreasonable.
On the other hand, a man who feels his application was not treated as sympathetically as a womans request may also claim sex discrimination.
Also be careful not to discriminate against those working for you part-time. It is again illegal to treat part timers less favourably than full timers, so when granting a request for flexible working hours that means reducing the number of hours worked, you should keep in mind the same thing when it comes to training, promotion and financial problems.
What Do You Think?
Does your company recommend flexible working hours? Are there even benefits of having employees on flexible hours?
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