Employers swamped by flexible hours requests

Seven out of 10 employers have received at least one request from an
employee to change their working patterns since the law on flexible working
came into effect one year ago.

Since April 2003, employees with children under six have had a legal right
to request changes in their working hours or to ask to work from home.

According to research by IRS Employment Review, 42 per cent of employers
agreed to meet flexible working requests, while 54 per cent offered compromise
arrangements to accommodate business needs.

As evidence that the law was having an impact, the employers surveyed said
that the new law was one of the main reasons they had introduced flexible
working opportunities.

IRS Employment Review managing editor Mark Crail said: "The first year
of the new legislation appears to have gone relatively smoothly. More than
eight in 10 employers have developed or will be developing guidelines in the
next 12 months.

"This commitment to help get the policy right indicates that employers
recognise the benefits it can bring to an organisation."

Crail believes the challenge for employers over the next few years will be
balancing employee demands with business needs.

"It is possible that more applicants will be unhappy with the
outcome," he said. "Many employers now recognise that a policy
bringing perceived benefits to one section of the workforce, risks alienating
other employees. It is no surprise that so many – almost 80 per cent – want to
extend rights to all employees to achieve a better work-life balance. The
survey’s findings reinforce the view that flexible working can no longer be
seen simply as the ‘family-friendly’ option."

The research was based on a survey of 69 public and private sector
organisations.

By Quentin Reade

www.irsemploymentreview.com

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