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Monthly Archives: July 2014

Does Flexible Working benefit your business?

At Simply-docs we are great fans of flexible working. Core to our business is our Content Team, who draft and update our document portfolio and related information. Our flexible working patterns combine part-time work and homeworking, allowing for the employees’ home locations, their childcare needs and their other interests. This has enabled us to recruit and retain a talented team of experienced solicitors and other professionals. By offering flexible working, small businesses can attract high quality employees in a cost effective manner, where the affordabilty of such a rich resource of talent becomes apparent not only through their efficiency, knowledge and experience but also the improved levels of productivity associated with such work patterns.

Reduction in travel time and costs, and reduction of office and infrastructure  costs also contribute, but the main winner for us is productivity and the security of knowing that we can sustain our workflow of new and updated documents. The Content Team, all of whom are employed applying a flexible working profile to suit each individual, each have responsibility for different parts of the document portfolio, but work together to check each others’ work and share intellectual input.  Trust levels between employer and employees are extremely high and, accordingly, generate great staff morale. They are able to maintain an improved life/work balance and make better use of their time with less stress. They are focused and motivated, responding favourably to the additional responsibilities that derive from working away from the office or having flexible working hours in the office.

BT, for instance, have found that home workers are 20% more productive than their office based colleagues, and that, though absenteeism could be expected to be higher for homeworkers than office based workers , absenteeism amongst home workers is 63% lower than  office based colleagues.  Their return to work figures for flexible workers post maternity leave are 93% compared to a UK averagge of 47%. Whilst we cannot be so specific with our productivity statistics, it is clear that our workflow and content targets are consistently maintained and improved, and that our support services and response time to customers’ queries are enhanced by our flexible working patterns.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) 2012 Survey found that the top 5 benefits of flexible working were:

– improved employee retention,
– greater staff motivation,
– improved employee engagement,
– better recruitment,
– and increased productivity.

These 5 benefits are inter-related and their contribution will differ for each business.  For some businesses part-time work may be possible but homeworking non-applicable. At Simply-docs the mix is simple – Flexible working first enabled us to improve our selection for recruitment, and then improve retention with greater staff motivation and employee engagement, all of which has delivered increased productivity.

Can or has flexible working benefited your business? Please add your comment below. Click here for more information.

Flexible Working Rights Extended to all Employees

As of 30th June 2014, any employees who have worked at a company for at least 26 weeks of continuous service will be covered by the legal right to request flexible working arrangements. Previously the legislation only extended to parents or those with caring responsibilities. The new rules, which are being implemented by The Children and Families Act 2014, mean that employers will need to consider flexible working requests made by any of their employees who meet the 26 week threshold in a “reasonable manner” and notify them of their decision within three months.

How will the changes affect employers in practice?

A YouGov survey commissioned by Croner suggested that over a quarter of employees plan to make requests for flexible working arrangements, potentially leading to a deluge of work for employers in keeping on top of their duties to deal with this surge in the volume of requests. However, the grounds on which an employer can reject any such requests remain the same (under the Employment Rights Act 1996), namely: the burden of additional costs; detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand; inability to re-organise work among existing staff; inability to recruit additional staff; detrimental impact on quality; detrimental impact on performance; insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work and planned structural change

The wide ambit of these grounds means that the right to request flexible working by employees is very much a right to “request” – not a right to demand. Although employers may have more red tape to deal with as a result of the extension of this right, and will need to update their Flexible Working Policy accordingly, they will still be able to determine their company policy with regards to flexible working. Furthermore, under the changes, employers will no longer be required to follow a statutory procedure when considering such requests. Instead, they will simply need to consider each request in a reasonable manner (objectively and fairly) and to notify each employee of their decision within three months of the request being made (subject to any agreed extension).

How are employment contracts affected by flexible working?

If you agree to an employee’s request for flexible working, it will often be necessary to make changes to their contract of employment to take account of their new working pattern. A variation of employment deed or alteration letter for employment Ts and Cs can be used for this purpose. Where the changes are more extensive, you may need to form a new employment contract altogether, possibly adopting a part time, compressed hours, zero hours or other more suitable contract.

Is your business prepared for the flexible working changes – and do you think it’s a move in the right direction?


For more information on your responsibilities regarding flexible working, take a look at some of these pages: