On the 30th of June of this year new laws were put in place to give UK employees the legal right to request flexible working hours. Britain’s more successful and larger businesses have yet to be greatly affected by the new legislation, but for the small and medium sized businesses, the impact could drastically affect employee workload and routine.

A study conducted by YouGov on behalf of Citrix has suggested that before the law came to fruition, 43% of SMB decision makers supported the legislation, with 21% believing that it wouldn’t benefit their business in any way.

Minster’s suggested that flexible working hours would allow employees to focus equally on both their job and their responsibilities at home, which should result in more people staying in long-term employment. Employers are now forced to deal with all requests for flexible working hours in a ‘reasonable manner’, but are still allowed to reject the request if they have good reason to do so. By not cooperating with the employee who placed the request in a reasonable manner then the employer is in danger of being taken to an employment tribunal, which could have major repercussions for the business.

Age is a major benefactor in the contrasting results in the survey, with 68% of people between the age of 25 and 34 supporting the new legislation. Perhaps this proves that the split opinion on the new law may not be an employer/employee conflict, but instead it may be a clash in generations. Older employees and employers may be unwilling to accept change as they would have not be exposed to such freedoms earlier on in their career and it will disrupt a routine they have been used to for years.

Stepping away from the age debate, 23% of employers believe that trust issues between employees and higher management will arise in the long-term due to the uncertainty employers will have over their employee’s working commitments and whether the same amount of focus will be maintained with flexible hours.

There are figures that eliminate that argument however, as a survey conducted by Chess Media Group state that 85% of employees who have been successful with their requests have reported that their work productivity has increased, raising the argument that the added freedom to an employee’s working week allows more time for recuperation which ultimately revitalises them to perform more efficiently from a working perspective. 77% of the employees in the survey stated that they were more satisfied with their job with a fellow 68% stating that they were happier in their role. These statistics may read well for employers, but in the long term it is likely to encourage other employees to follow suit and could eventually lead to flexible working hours being normality, rather than the traditional 9-5 working day.

Employee happiness was key to the introduction of the law, so with statistics backing up the increased number of happy employees within the workplace, employers of SMBs will have to look into ways of adjusting their employee plan to fit the current rulings.


Infographic by GoToMeeting.co.uk


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