Flexible working requests on the rise

Increasingly, requests for flexible working are occurring in the workplace. Originally flexible working was designed as an option for parents or carers needing to adapt their working lives around their caring responsibilities. However, it has now become broader with people seeking to work according to their preferences, rather than their needs.

While there isn’t a legal definition of flexible working, the umbrella term can cover all manner of working outside the office, including from home.

In legal terms, employees have a statutory right to put in a formal flexible working request after 26 weeks’ service and can put in requests of this nature every 12 months. Bur recent research has found that 16% of employees felt that their manager would react badly to a request for a more flexible working schedule, with a further 15% concerned that it could negatively impact their career progression.

However, those who have had their flexible working requests accommodated may also that there are negative consequences. Some workers may feel isolated and struggle to make professional connections; or feel less connected to their teams.

One in 10 employees in the UK are already on some form of flexible working contract, and with this number only set to rise, employers need to be able to accommodate the increasingly flexible workforce. Employers should have policies in place to demonstrate how flexible working can be used and applied for.

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