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Earlier this month, Aviva released their Working Lives Report 2017. The report surveyed 500 UK private sector employers and 2,000 UK private sector employees with a key topic being the attitudes and experiences of employees and employers in relation to flexible working.

Flexible working can take many different forms, including working from home, working part-time, job sharing and reduced hours (to name a few).  It can provide a valuable solution where employees are attempting to better manage their work life balance.

The Aviva report showed that flexible working is increasingly being adopted by businesses across the country, with 65% of employers surveyed saying they already offer flexible working to their employees and a further 14% intending to introduce it within the next year.

A major driver of this change is that more employers are recognising the benefits of flexible working, both to their business and the employees.

A particular benefit highlighted in the report was the positive impact it can have on the happiness, loyalty and productivity of staff.

Flexible working is not only key in improving the working lives of employees, it may also be on the checklist for individuals looking for a new role, with 54% of employees saying they would prefer their next role to include a flexible working offering.

Despite the clear benefits of flexible working outlined in the report, as many as one in five employees surveyed said they were hesitant to make a statutory flexible working request to their employer for fear that it might be rejected.

Of all the employees surveyed, those aged between 18-34 were the most inclined to make a flexible working request, in contrast, the 35-49 bracket were the least likely to make a flexible working request despite people within this age bracket being likely to have young dependants.

Employees may be hesitant to make a request for a number of reasons; in some workplaces there may be a stigma associated with flexible working, which could lead to employees feeling their request would be viewed negatively by their employer (seeing it as an excuse to do less work, getting less value for their money etc.) or perhaps they feel flexible working is reserved for those with a more pressing need for it, such as new mums looking to balance childcare, carers or employees with disabilities.

Irrespective of reason, all employees who have 26 weeks’ continuous service with the same employer have a statutory right to make a flexible working request. It’s good practice to give due consideration to all requests, instead of having a blanket ‘We do not offer flexible working’ response. Incorporating flexible working into your business culture can be key in retaining key and/or experienced personnel as well as being a great incentive for attracting the right talent for your business in the future.

Whilst all business are different and the (expected) costs and challenges associated with administrating flexible working may be daunting to some, this report shows that more and more businesses are benefiting from operating outside of the conventional 9.00am-5.00pm, through embracing flexible working practices.

At Gorvins, our employment law solicitors are experts in flexible working and the rules surrounding it; we have advised a large number of employers on their policies to ensure they are following the rules when it comes to handling employee requests.

If you have been given a flexible working request from an employee or you just need advice and support in relation to any aspect of flexible working, contact the team at Gorvins Solicitors on 0161 930 5151, e-mail employmentteam@gorvins.com.

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