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New Flexible Work Laws. What Do They Mean For You?

As of 6th April 2024, new laws that govern applying for flexible work came into force in the UK.


In this article we’ll cover what’s changed, what you need to know and how to apply for flexible work.


The headline is that you can now apply for flexible work from your first day of employment, rather than having to wait 6 months, not that we would recommend doing this.


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Other changes include:

  • Your company can no longer reject your application without due consideration and is now required to consult with you before they can reject your application. (No consultation needed if they approve your application)

  • The time your company has to respond to your application has been reduced to 2 months from 3.

  • You are no longer required to explain what effect your request will have on your company or how the impact might be dealt with.

  • You can now make 2 requests within a rolling 12-month period.


Before we get too far into the what and the how, I should say that it should only be in very unusual circumstances that you walk into the office on day 1 and submit a flexible working request.


If you know you need flexible working, then you have conversations with your hiring manager and HR during the recruitment process and agreed a flexible working arrangement. Waiting until you start the job is only going to have a negative impact on your relationship with your new company.


If, after a few weeks/months, your circumstances change or you realise the flexibility you have isn’t quite working for you, you should re-assess what kind of flexibility will work best for you.


Different types of flexible work:

In this article I’ll cover the 8 different forms that the government recognises and are therefore more likely to be included in your company’s flexible working policy, or considered in your request.

1. Job sharing - two or more people share one job and split the hours. Usually 50:50 or 60:40.

2. Remote - usually working from home, but some companies will allow you to work from anywhere. We occasionally find some of our clients working from a cottage in France or on the beach!

3. Part-time - self explanatory. We find it more useful to call this reduced hours, and to negotiate in hours rather than days.

4. Compressed hours - working a full-time role but over fewer hours such as 37.5hrs in 4 days instead of 5. This has the advantage that you get paid 100% of a salary, compared to a 4-day week where you still end up putting the hours in but only get 80% of a salary.


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5. Flexi-time - you choose when to start and end work (within agreed limits) but work certain ‘core hours’, for example, from 10am to 4pm. Different companies have different interpretations, so check before including it in your plan.

6. Annualised hours - work an agreed number of hours over the course of the year depending on the peaks and troughs of the work-load. For example, one of our Tribe graduates works almost full-time hours in April and May, but 5-10hrs per week during the summer and in December when the workload is at its lowest. You could also use this for a term-time only arrangement.

7. Staggered hours - you work different hours to your colleagues. E.g. instead of 9-5 every day, you work 10-6 so you can do the school drop-off, or 7-3 so you miss the rush-hour traffic and reduce your commute time. Everybody’s circumstances are slightly different, so think about what would work best for you.

8. Phased retirement - slowly reduce your hours over the course of 12-24 months until you retire completely.


Whilst the new law no longer requires you to share your thoughts on the impact on the business, and what changes you might make to reduce this impact, we would strongly recommend that you still put some thought into this. Demonstrating to your company that you have thought this through carefully, and care about the success of your team will only strengthen your case, and increase the chances of it being approved.


Applying For Flexible Work:

Whether you are Returning to Work, or submitting a flexible work request to your current company, approach asking for flexibility in the same way.


Make sure you take the time to work out a Plan A, a way of working that is going to work well for you, and then think about what you are willing to negotiate on. You also need to be clear, in your own mind, on what you don’t want so that you don’t get pushed into accepting something that you know won’t work for you.


In terms of what to include in the letter to your employer, you can find more information here.


But whether a flexible working request succeeds or fails largely depends on how much time and thought you have put into how you working flexibly is going to affect the team, and how you think it will benefit the organisation.


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To really achieve this, imagine if one of your colleagues started working flexibly, and think about how it would affect you, the team, your manager and the wider organisation.


Your goal is to think of any issues before your manager (and HR), and present the solutions before these concerns harden into full sized road-blocks.


Consider:

  • how much additional workload would you have to manage?

  • how much more pressure and therefore stress would it put on you, the team and your manager?

  • would your manager need to hire someone to share their job?

  • how would it affect your clients?

  • any data security issues created by working remotely?


Now you’ve thought about this, do you have a solution(s) that you can put forward?


What are the advantages to the company of you working flexibly. Do some research on the type of flexibility you would like and the advantages it has. Make sure you use studies and statistics rather than anecdotal stories from friends.


You are looking to sell your company the dream and make sure that they see your flexible working request as an opportunity rather than an obstruction.


Be positive and focus on what’s in it for them, not you. Take your time, think it through carefully, and Good Luck!


If you’re struggling, or not sure how to approach your manager then reach out to your Tribe coach, or drop me a line using the Live Chat.


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