Advantages and Disadvantages of Flexible Working

Flexible working has become more popular over recent years due to the changing needs of customers and employees. It’s valued by both employees and employers for the benefits it brings.

But what is flexible working? The term is used in many different ways which can be confusing. Our guide explains what it encompasses, the benefits, and how workers can request a change to working patterns.

There are many advantages to flexible working, which can benefit the business as well as the employees.

Flexible Working Advantages for Employers

Flexible working creates greater cost effectiveness and efficiency. Overheads can be reduced when employees Work From Home.

There can also be less downtime for machinery if 24 hour shifts are worked. It also attracts an increased skills base to the workforce. Offering flexibility around shifts means the business is able to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce. There is also more job satisfaction and better Staff Morale.

It can also help staff retention. Many might otherwise leave due to other commitments, and being offered flexible hours means they can remain in their post.

Improved Work Life Balance

Many employers find that a better Work Life Balance has a positive impact on staff retention. It also supports employee relations, motivation and commitment.

A company can also remain more competitive if they adopt flexible working practices. A flexible workforce means they can react to sudden changes in market conditions more rapidly.

Flexible Working Advantages for Employees

Flexible working practices help staff fit in Family Commitments and activities around their hours of work. This is particularly useful for those who have children or who may have to care for others.

But other staff may find flexible working helpful too.

It can help people manage their workloads more effectively. The flexibility can also lessen the stress of long commutes to work. Many employers find that sickness and absence levels fall as a result.

Different Types of Flexible Working Arrangements

Flexible work patterns can be established in a variety of ways. They can include the following but there are numerous alternative flexible arrangements in addition:

  • Part time working – workers are contracted to work less than the basic full-time hours.
  • Flexi time – workers have the freedom to work in any way they choose outside a set of core hours established by their employer.
  • Job sharing – one full time job is split between 2 workers who work out their shifts between themselves.
  • Shift swapping – workers work out shifts amongst themselves but still ensure that all shifts are covered.
  • Time off in lieu – workers take time off to suit to compensate for extra hours worked.
  • Home working – workers spend all or part of their week working from home or somewhere else away from the office.

See also: Can I reduce my hours at work? – how to submit a flexible working request to reduce work hours.

The Law on Flexible Working Requests

From 30 June 2014 every employee has the statutory right to request flexible working after 26 weeks employment service.

Sometimes it can be near to impossible to keep up with normal office hours when juggling life as well. Commuting, childcare and health all become a little stretched, and a little impacted by busy working days.

Your mental health might be taking a bit of a knock and you need to make some work changes. All of these are valid reasons for requesting flexible working.

You do have to meet certain criteria to be eligible:-

  • You must have been with your employer for at least 26 weeks.
  • You are an employee in the legal sense of the word.
  • This is your first request in the last 12 months.

Some companies have their own policy in place for such requests and you may not need to meet one or all of the above criteria.

When employers are considering the request for flexible working, they must do so fairly and reasonably. They should aim to have an answer within 3 months unless they have communicated this will take longer to the employee.

They should use the ACAS Code of Practice on Flexible Working Requests when making their decision.

Reasons for Refusal

An employer may not accept a flexible working request in all cases. However, a strict procedure must be followed. Only a set number of justifiable grounds would be acceptable in an employer’s decision to refuse the flexible working request.

If an employer can’t justify why they won’t allow flexible working, the employee can take them to an Employment Tribunal. More details about this can be found on the ACAS website.

See also:

9 thoughts on “Advantages and Disadvantages of Flexible Working

  1. Fanous says:

    Hi I have been working night shift for about 2 years now ..I find myself moody and tired all the time’s also causing my family alot of stress..with a kid on the way I was wondering what are my chances of doing less night shift? Thank you!!

  2. Coomatalre says:

    When i first started in my job I had a different position and where I live , the work was suited . I was promoted and am now expected to travel 2 hours to and from work most days. I have done this for almost a year. It is very tiring and I would like to know if I can ask for more flexible arrangements. I used to be able to work from home 2- 3 days. That has been reduced to 1 and I am now travelling to regional areas, which is sometimes 5 hrs travel. Please help.

  3. lizzy says:

    Hi I broke my neck and Fractured my back 8 weeks ago and am due back to work at the end of June. I want to reduce my permanent work hours from 5 days to 4 days, can i request this?

  4. Bob says:

    I have been working for nearly two years on nightshift. A new manager has came in and is trying to force me to do shift patterns. I chose to work permanent nights due to family commitments. What are my rights and how do I put my case forward? Another employee works permanent days and he cannot do nights due to the same reason can we combine forces and try to get this over turned

    • Safe Workers says:

      @Bob – You could try consulting with your employer if you two of you are able to do the shifts between you as you are at present. Check your contract, was it amended to state night shifts only, when you chose to do permanent nights? If so, your employer will need to gain your consent before changing your hours/shifts.

  5. cya says:

    I was recently fired when I requested to work a new shift manager stated we had in a meeting. She said the shift is only available is she has over 12 events on any given day, so she couldn’t honor my request. So I told her I was available to be a breaker twice a wk. She said she couldn’t honor that, when there’s a breaker needed every single day & we’re scheduled as a breaker at least once or twice a month, without requesting. The company’s always been very flexible with our shift request until this new manager came in. Took her over a wk. to get back to me after I left numerous msgs. for her to call me back with my schedule since my availability changed. She said she was going to have to let me go,(fired), however would rehire me if I became available again for former shifts. I’m devastated. I loved my job , coworkers & hundreds of customers that I got to know over the years I was there. Can’t see myself ever walking back in to the workplace again. The embarrassment & the way she let me go is very hurtful. Haven’t heard back from unemployment to see if I qualify. 50/50 chance. Does anyone know if I was rightfully let go?

  6. jacko says:

    In september i lose my carers allowance as i earn a little over the threshold due to not needing child care anymore, at present i work 8am-12pm so therefore can get an afternoon job, My employers have come in today and change my shift patten 11-3pm so i cant now look for an afternoon job, my husband works shifts, and we have a child with Autism, Iv asked my employer to keep me on the mornings as il be out of pocket by £268 month, and they’ve said no?, help me!, x

    • Safe Workers says:

      @jacko – What does your contract say? Are specfic shifts mentioned? If so and your employer has breached your contract follow the steps in this article. If no specific shifts are mentioned there is nothing to prevent your employer from changing them, as long as the hours are not increased or reduced. You do have the right to request flexible work, your employer does not have to grant it.but must give you reasons for not doing so. They may consider that 11 to 3 is flexible enough to allow for any child care responsibilities as well. Your options are: (1) try to renegotiate with your employer (2) ask to work a longer day (8am to 3pm?) to cover both shifts (and increase your wages) or (3) to look for another job that gives you more hours.

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