Flexible working and the importance of a work-life balance

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Today, employees have competing responsibilities. Maintaining a work-life balance and good mental health is important, not least from the point of view of their employers. Achieving this can help avoid stress, high absenteeism and low productivity, and increase loyalty and commitment among employees.

Technology can facilitate flexible working arrangements but also create challenges for employers. Do you embrace or tolerate it, and what is the impact of your approach on employees?

Businesses can accommodate flexible working in various ways, some are statutory and others discretionary. Shared parental leave allows those eligible to take leave in the first year after the birth or placement of a child, and share paid or unpaid leave with their partner. However, uptake is low, perhaps due to lack of awareness, financial concerns and perceptions that it may impact negatively on career prospects.

Employees can make flexible working requests under the statutory procedure, subject to eligibility requirements. The employer must process the request within a certain timeframe and only refuse it on grounds established in the legislation.

Many employees wishing to alter their working hours will speak to their employers and agree an informal arrangement. However, with formal procedures, employers should carefully consider the request and act reasonably and lawfully. The parties can agree a trial period for any new arrangement and review the impact in due course.

Alternatively, homeworking may be a viable option.  For employers, the advantages include reduced overhead costs and increased productivity, motivation, and retention of skilled workers. Drawbacks include loss of control and support difficulties. Practical considerations, such as access to resources and supervision, planning, tax and insurance issues, should also be addressed.

Fundamentally, ensure you have clear policies that address flexible working and the expectations of both parties. For further information on this or any employment issue, please contact us