HR firm Precept encourages open conversation over flexible working ahead of Euro 2024

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
An award-winning HR & Law firm is encouraging businesses to open up conversations with its employees as new laws on flexible working arrangements come into effect – especially with a busy summer of sport coming up.

Both England and Scotland will be hoping to progress in the men’s football European Championship, which kick-off in Germany on Friday, June 14 with the hosts playing the Scots (8pm) in Group A. Then, just a month later, Team GB will head to Paris for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Changes to employees’ rights to ask for flexible working came into force in April when the Employment Relations Act 2023 became law, with key features include making it a day-one right for employees to put in a statutory flexible working request.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Emma Tice, Head of Employment Law at Derbyshire-based Precept – which recently celebrated its fifth birthday - says that having clear policy on flexible working and making sure that it’s fair and consistent, is key.

Emma Tice is head of Employment Law at Precept.Emma Tice is head of Employment Law at Precept.
Emma Tice is head of Employment Law at Precept.

She said: “Businesses should think carefully about whether flexible working works for their organisation. Don’t be ashamed to say it doesn’t; just be prepared to explain why not.

“It’s important we acknowledge that flexible working is not for everybody and just won’t work across every organisation. There are sectors – manufacturing and teaching for example – where homeworking won’t work. So flexible working needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

“Some organisations have it as standard, and from day one. So, at Precept, some members of the team are completely home-based whilst others work on a hybrid basis, coming into the office for part of the week and working from home the rest. That works for us.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Other organisations don’t have it as standard but will be accommodating on an informal basis, so staff can ask on the odd occasion to work from home or adjust their working hours and that’s all just done by agreement.

“And others require something more formal, in the form of a statutory flexible working request that will make permanent changes to somebody’s working arrangements.”

Flexible working requests have been around for years, but the focus has been back on them since COVID and with an increased appetite from employees and (on occasion) employers for staff to work more flexibly.

A lot of the old rules still apply, meaning that employees can request to change the hours of work, the times when they are required to work and place of work. Any change that is made under a statutory flexible working request will be permanent entailing a change in the employee’s terms and conditions of employment. Organisations will then need to give some thought as to how those changes are recorded. Emma’s top tip here is “always get these types of things formally recorded in writing for clarity.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The flexible working request must be put in writing, clearly stating the date and that it is an application under the statutory scheme.

Emma added: “Unsurprisingly, the request must make clear what change is being asked for and the employee must also say whether they have made any other statutory flexible working requests in the last 12 months. And, if so, when.”

Prior to the changes, the employee also had to set out what impact they thought the change would have on the employer and how the employer might mitigate this. But under the new law, the employee doesn’t have to worry about this.

“Employers have two months to respond to and conclude a statutory flexible working request,” said Emma, “which means that they need to give a decision and deal with and complete any appeal within that time.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“If it’s looking like you just won’t be able to deal with the request in that time, you can agree an extension with the employee. Again, definitely get this agreement in writing if possible!”

Emma believes that being able to offer staff flexible working arrangements has helped Precept to recruit a high calibre of staff over the last five years.

She said: “I am incredibly proud of what Precept has achieved over the last five years and we’re lucky to have such a brilliant, talented team here.

“Being flexible in our approach has helped to attract the right people to Precept.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Reports have suggested that 90% of employees want to access some sort of flexible working, so there are obvious benefits from a recruitment perspective; you’re more likely to attract a wider talent pool either because more people will want to work for you, or it will allow the ‘net’ for your talent pool to be wider.

“As a working mum, I definitely benefit from being able to work flexibly. It does require a high-degree of self-motivation but, for me, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

“There are challenges, too, and the Precept team are always happy to advise on this.”

Precept’s next event is an online training session on neurodiversity in the workplace on June 12 (10-11am). For details and to book a place, visit precept.com. If you want to know more about flexible working the Precept team recently covered this in their online training sessions, so contact them to access the recording and accompanying documents.

Related topics: