The latest piece of legislation change that’s got everyone talking is the revision of the rules on applying for flexible working hours.

From 30 June 2014, every employee that has been employed by a company for longer than a 26 weeks period has the right to request flexible working hours. This used to be a right that was offered to just parents and carers, but now anyone who has other commitments and wishes to apply can do so.

While this is a positive step towards offering equal opportunities to workers, it’s important to know how it will affect your business and it is vital that your company puts a frame work in place to deal with these applications.

It’s important to look at this change as a positive idea and something that can potentially increase productivity in your business. If an employee is far more productive in the morning and they request to begin earlier in the day in order to leave earlier, then as long as their job doesn’t require them to work until a specific time in the afternoon and there are no other conflicts, there is no reason to refuse them the change. It will give you a more productive and contented employee for the time they are working which can only be a benefit to your business.

On the flip side of this there will be people who apply for hours that are unsuitable. Employers should treat every request in a reasonable manner. Having legislation in place to deal with this is the best way to avoid people feeling they’re being discriminated against. The same system for everyone with fair objective evaluation is the best way to ensure everyone is treated equally.

In order for the process to be more manageable for HR departments, individuals will only be allowed to request a change once in a 12 month period. A decision should be made within 3 months of the application and if refused, it’s best to explain as fully as possibly why this was the case so that the employee understands exactly why their request was declined. As in many situations, communication is key and an honest relationship with employees is the best way to resolve any issues that may arise.

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