Jason Downes

We need to change the outdated perception of flexible working

It’s been almost two decades since the UK Government first introduced the right to request flexible working for parents and carers. Since then, a lot has changed within our working environments; from the introduction of innovative technologies right through to our daily routine. All employees now have the legal right to request flexible working arrangements, yet since 2010 the percentage of the UK workforce adopting smarter ways of working has not risen above 27 per cent.

Research has proved that flexible working arrangements contribute to a more balanced and fulfilled life and are a fantastic way to attract and motivate the best talent for employers. However, even though awareness surrounding smarter ways of working has increased, it’s clear that common misconceptions are still rife in the UK. So we broke down the most outdated views in a battle to change opinions and get more of the nation embracing flexible working.

Flexible working isn’t an option

One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to flexible working is that this option is not available to workers. The Government defines flexible working as a way of operating that suits an employee’s needs – for example having flexible start and finish times, or working from home. Although the rules differ slightly in Northern Ireland, for the rest of the UK all workers have the legal right to request flexible working if they have been with the same employer for at least 26 weeks. Meeting this requirement ensures you are eligible. It is a legal requirement that employers deal with such requests in a ‘reasonable manner’, weighing up the pros and cons of the application. In fact, if an employer does not handle the request in a reasonable manner, the employee can take them to an employment tribunal.

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