Are you aware of the latest changes in employment law to hit
the UK economy and, if so, are you prepared to follow suit?
Did you know that with effect from 30 June 2014, all employees
in the UK with over six months' continuous service have the
legal right to request flexible working? In effect, these employees
can now make a formal request to their employer and ask to work
flexible start and finish times, or even work from home. Sounds too
good to be true doesn't it? Well, in truth, it probably is.
The problem lies in the fact that the employer does not actually
have to agree to the request; an employer can still very easily say
"no" and insist that its employees work to their
contract. This leaves us wondering whether these latest
developments will actually have any positive impact. Certainly,
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg seems to think that flexible
working will boost productivity and staff morale. He even goes as
far as saying that the measures will help employers retain their
Yet, the sceptics among us question how this will work in
practice and, in particular, what impact this could have on smaller
businesses. The UK's Federation of Small Business is concerned
that many of its members will not be able to comply with any
request due to cost, the need to balance a small workforce and the
additional administrative burden this may pose on already limited
resources. The FSB even says that the introduction of flexible
working could create a "negative dynamic" in the
workplace, particularly if a request is unsuccessful.
An employer must consider any request for flexible working in a
reasonable manner. The UK has yet to set out exactly what
constitutes being reasonable but guidelines seem to suggest that an
employer is required to consider the pros and cons of the proposed
arrangements, hold a meeting with the employee concerned and then
offer an appeals process if their request is unsuccessful. In
reality though, an employer can easily refuse a request, having
gone through the process, if it has a good business reason for
doing so, and this could be open to wide interpretation by
These latest changes follow a stern request from the European
Union that the UK comes into line with other EU countries and
ensures that its working practices are "bang up-to-date with
the needs and choices of modern families". As such, many of
our neighbour countries are already offering flexible working
conditions to employees as a matter of course. However, on the
basis that the Channel Islands are yet to even become part of the
EU, the chances of the States being made to come into line any time
soon are pretty remote.
That aside, many large Channel Island employers are already
offering flexible working conditions to their employees and have
recognised the benefit of doing so. Employers have reported seeing
an enhancement in employee engagement and the retention of a more
diverse workforce. Smaller businesses are less likely to follow
suit and it may be some time before they are able to consider
making similar arrangements.
Still, it is very early days since the UK's latest changes
came into force and it remains to be seen what, if any, positive
impact these changes will have on its economy.
Rest assured, we shall be watching the developments with
interest and will provide you with a progress report (positive or
negative) at a later date. In the meantime, if you are presented
with a request for flexible working conditions and this will simply
not work for you or your business, don't worry, you can still
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The Ministry of Human Resources has recently issued a string of new ministerial resolutions and decrees designed to address gaps in the employment regulatory framework and reinforce existing legislation...
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