Everything you need to know about flexible working

More than half of all UK office workers are now allowed to work remotely, and a third report they are more productive when working outside of the usual workplace.

Figures from the latest YouGov Omnibus research found over half (54%) of UK office workers are currently able to work remotely – just under a third (30%) found this increased their capacity to put a shift in, compared to just under a fifth (17%) who said the opposite was true.

So what exactly does remote working entail? And is there a difference between that and flexible working? Let’s take a look…

What is remote working?

Remote working is a term usually associated with office work and is when  work is done from a location outside of the traditional office.

Remote working may also be referred to as telecommuting, home working, mobile working, or virtual working.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working is when work patterns, shifts or hours are scheduled to fit round the needs of the employee. This is usually in the form of flexible start and finish times, but can also include working from home or remote working.

And all UK employees now have the right to request flexible working from their employer – it’s no longer just for parents and carers.

So while remote working means you have the option to work away from the office, flexible working is a broader term that includes any works schedule outside of the normal work pattern, be that working hours, locations or anything in between.

What are the different types of flexible working on offer?

Flexible working is an umbrella term that can include any of the following:

  • Part-time working
  • Flexi-time – scope to change work hours outside of “core” business periods
  • Job-sharing
  • Working from home or remotely
  • Compressed hours – for example, fitting a five-day week into four days
  • Term-time working – paid or unpaid leave during school holidays
  • Annual hours – agreed hours split into “set” and “reserve” shifts, worked as demand dictates

How to make a request for flexible working

If you feel you’ve a legitimate reason to request flexible working, you need to inform your employer in writing and include evidence of the following:

  • The date of your application, the specific change to working conditions you want ( for example, flexi-time or remote working), and when you would like the change to come into effect
  • What impact, if any, you think your request will have on the employer and how this might be dealt with
  • A statement that this is a statutory request and the dates, if any, of any previous requests for flexible working.

What is the law on flexible working in the UK?

Almost all employees with at least 26 weeks’ service under their belt have the right to ask for flexible working. Every request must be considered and can only be turned down on the basis of one of the following eight reasons:

  • the burden of additional costs
  • an inability to reorganise work among existing staff
  • an inability to recruit additional staff
  • a detrimental impact on quality
  • a detrimental impact on performance
  • detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
  • a planned structural change to the business.

If an application  turned down an appeal can be made. If an appeal is turned down, no further applications for flexible working can be made within the next 12 months.

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