Last updated: 03.07.14

CIPD: Employers can benefit from new flexible working laws

The new flexible working laws have been praised by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) as it believes the reforms will benefit employers and workers alike.

Under the new legislation, any employee who has been in service for at least 26 weeks now has the right to request to work flexibly - an entitlement previously reserved for parents or carers. The law covers working arrangements that allow some degree of fluidity in terms of, when and how long staff members work for.

Flexible working practices include part-time and term-time working, as well as jobsharing, flexitime, working from home, mobile working and career breaks.

CIPD has long campaigned for reforms to the old laws, using research that revealed such policies have benefits for businesses, as well as staff, as its ammunition.

Although some organisations may have extended the previous laws to all workers, the changes mean government guidance is now available to support and advise them. For example, the official advice explains that requests can only be declined if there is a “business reason” underpinning the decision, such as not being able to cover a specific shift.

Research from CIPD shows that the most common reasons for refusal are customer demand (39 per cent), inability to reorganise work (30 per cent) and impact on performance (16 per cent). The study also reveals that 73 per cent of employers report that flexible working has a positive impact on staff motivation and engagement, while a further 75 per cent believe it helps to retain staff.

Susannah Clements, CIPD deputy chief executive, said: “Extending the ‘right to request’ to all workers is a measure that recognises the complexities of modern working lives. Employers need flexible workforces to meet the increasingly 24/7 needs of their global customer bases.

“And more and more employees find they need to able to build some flexibility into their working patterns at different times during their working lives - be that to accommodate childcare, caring for sick or elderly relatives, study or other life events.”

Flexible working will open many doors for employees, allowing them the time and space needed to pursue other interests, such as furthering their education.
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