The HR Dept. surveyed 1,523 small and medium-sized businesses across the UK. Some SMEs expressed concern about changes to legislation that give all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service the right to request flexible working. However, a larger number of business owners and managers believed the new rules, which came in at the end of June, to be fairer.
Sara Abbott, director of The HR Dept. North Birmingham, said: “Over time they expect the move will lessen problems amongst the workforce, rather than exacerbate the situation of perceived favouritism for certain employees.”
She said it is inevitable these changes will cause concern for smaller firms less able to absorb changes to working patterns, but added: “Any employee can now request flexible working, but if the employer can demonstrate a valid reason for not allowing it, the request can be turned down, with no penalty.”
In addition, Abbott said businesses that embrace the change will benefit. “The changes will allow businesses to retain skilled, experienced staff who may want to alter their working hours simply to suit changes in their lifestyle or family environment. Any business that allows greater flexibility is demonstrating how much it values its employees. It also marks these businesses out as the sort people want to work for, which will also help recruit the best talent in the future.”