From 30th June 2014, all employees with at least 26 weeks continuous service, will have a legal right to make a request for flexible working arrangements to be considered by their employer.
And, as an employer, you will have a legal obligation to hear the request properly and to provide a valid reason if you can't accommodate the request.
There are many forms of flexible working. It can describe a place of work, for example, home-working, or a type of contract, such as a temporary contract. Other common variations include part-time working, flexi-time, job sharing and shift working.
Importantly, how likely are HR software vendors to respond to this important change in legislation, and provide clients with the necessary capability to manage these requests?
John Allan, Chairman for the Federation of Small Business said, "While the new procedure is designed to be light-touch, inevitably it will entail additional administration that the smallest of businesses will have to learn and may struggle to apply," and "where requests are declined, our experience shows 'the right to request' can introduce an unwelcome negative dynamic into the workplace."
- Employees must make the request in writing
- Employees must have thought about, and make representation, as to how the proposed new working arrangements would impact the business
- Employees must have 26 weeks continuous employment at the date the application is made
- Employers have a statutory duty to consider all applications
- Once agreed, it becomes a permanent change to the contract of employment
- An employee has the right to appeal, if necessary, against the outcome
- Negotiation required if an agreement for requested hours is not possible
- Only one application can be made in a 12 months period
The Government estimates that in the first 10 years, the new policy would bring overall economic benefits of about £475m from increased productivity, lower labour turnover, and reduced absenteeism.
They also estimate 60,000 new flexible working arrangements every year and that this change in legislation could see an additional 150 tribunal cases every year, with an average cost of £5,900 per employer.
Steve Williams of Acas commented, "The challenge is making sure that managers making the decisions actually get them right, and that they don't approve without thinking, otherwise you'll get a workplace that isn't functional."
So, how will HR software suppliers help organisations with the need to manage requests correctly, consistently and compliantly? And without charging expensive consultancy fees to design additional screens, process driven workflows and reporting measures that an organisation might need?
Other than Youmanage, we suspect that none will!
Youmanage will have the necessary functionality built into the standard 'Core HR' module to provide ‘case management’ prowess, giving clients the overall capability and delivered as part of their normal subscription fee.
We design process driven compliance tools for our users, publishing pre-determined data capture screens as part of all workflow process so that any employee, HR user or manager can be guided through the process, which will be in line with statutory guidelines, HR best practice and legislative compliance.
A Few Questions:
- How will you deal with multiple and conflicting requests?
- Are your managers equipped to handle requests in a compliant and consistent manner?
- What information and guidance will you communicate to employees on their need to consider what effect the requested flexible working arrangement will have on your business?
- Are you able to favour one request over another?
- Do you envisage an increase in administration?
- Is there potential margin for error in administration?
- How will you ensure that no one makes a request if less than 26 weeks service?
- How will you mitigate the risks of possible discrimination claims?
- Will you simply have a rule to refuse all such requests to avoid the risk of discrimination?
- How will you know whether an employee has submitted a request within the last 12 months?
- Will your managers understand that once a change has been agreed, it’s permanent?
- How will you manage the employee’s right of appeal?
- Are your managers capable of negotiating an agreement if the request can’t be accommodated?
Youmanage delivers full end to end case management capability to support requests for flexible working seamlessly in managing, documenting and reporting on all employee interactions with HR and line managers, centralised within one accessible HR portal.