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Flexible Working – UK changes in 2024

Flexible Working – UK changes in 2024

From 6 April 2024, employees in the UK will be able to request flexible working from their first day in a new job.

Following the request, employers must deal with it in a ‘reasonable manner’ which is deemed to include assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the application, holding a meeting to discuss the request with the employee, and offering an appeal process if the request is declined.

If an employer does not handle a request reasonably, the employee can take them to an employment tribunal!

This new legislation can be a minefield for employers. Whilst flexible working can boost retention rates and reduce absence rates by improving an employee’s work-life balance there is lots to consider when implementing a flexible working policy.

1. What type of flexible working?

Flexible working not only includes working from home as well as in the office (hybrid working) but also includes flexible hours and a work-from-anywhere approach (agile working). Some people are more productive in the evening or early morning, but you must consider if this works for your business.

2. Access to global talent

Flexible working allows access to a bigger work pool, not only across the UK, but the skills and talent of employees overseas can now be accessed more easily.

Employers do need to be mindful of local legislation when employing people based oversees as they may be different statutory requirements when it comes to annual leave, pensions etc

3. Cost savings

Flexible working can massively reduce an employer’s overheads, and also any contributions they were making to travel allowances.

Employers need to consider If they will make any contribution towards an employee’s WiFi/office equipment if they are working from home.

4. Wellbeing

Although flexible/home working is often considered to be beneficial for an employee’s wellbeing, the boundaries of office and home space can become blurred with it becoming harder and harder to switch off.

5. Company Culture

Remote working can hinder spontaneous interactions and effective communication between teams. It can contribute to misunderstandings between teams and individuals and have a negative impact on a company’s culture. Managers must ensure they consider regular in-person get-togethers and social events to facilitate the ‘water cooler’ moment.

6. Managing a team

It can be extremely challenging to manage a team ‘from a distance’ and conversely, employees might feel demotivated by not feeling part of a team or having that close relationship with their manager. Teams must make sure they schedule regular formal one-to-one’s and informal check-ins to ensure well-being and performance. Never has the importance of a clear job description and targets been more important.

It’s clear that there is a lot to consider before an organisation can fully embrace flexible working, and you can read the full article regarding the upcoming changes on the government website. The topic will also be discussed at this year’s Maritime People & Culture conference in the context of its effect on a company’s culture.

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