Flexible working and making it work

February 01, 2021 - 12:00am

Flexible working and making it work

As a result of lockdown, employers across the UK have enabled staff to work from home. In doing so, many businesses have realised home working does not impact on productivity and, in many cases, works very well.

There are also cost benefits, primarily a reduced need for office space. It is therefore likely that an increase in the use of home working will result, with some employers even looking to enforce it. Employers may also want to consider offering flexible working arrangements, allowing staff to work at times when it best suits them.

If your business is considering adopting this approach, there are a number of considerations to address, including:

· Contractual variations: where any changes are proposed, employers need to consider if contractual changes are required and employment contracts reflect the amended terms.

· Consultation obligations: before varying contracts, employers should follow a consultation process to agree the proposed terms which may include relevant Trade Unions, or elected employee representatives.

· Policies and expenses: employers should consider whether to provide and maintain equipment and/or pay for employees’ costs of working from home. Risk assessments should also be carried out and recorded.

· Hours of work: depending on the nature of the business, employers could consider if agile working is possible, so that staff can work the hours that suit them.

· Working Time Regulations: employers will need to ensure that workers stay within the 48-hour working week or put opt-out agreements in place.

· Monitoring work: employers may need to adapt their one-to-one and review procedures, to monitor workloads and quality or quantity of work being produced by homeworkers

Kate Shawcross, employment law specialist from Harrison Drury, outlines what you need to consider before implementing flexible (agile) working arrangements with employees.