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Employers the length and breadth of the country will be gearing up for the extension of Flexible Working Regulations coming into effect on June 30th .

With the right to request flexible working now available to employees who have completed 26 weeks’ of continuous service, it’s no wonder that many are keen to take advantage of this opportunity.

According to new YouGov research carried out on behalf of HR consultants Croner, a quarter of the 2,238 UK adults questioned are set to make a request to work flexibly with potential options including home-working, flexi-time and compressed weeks.

The Croner report ‘Will Employers Have to Be So Flexible?’ also offered an insight into why more than two thirds (69%) of employees hadn’t made a flexible working request in the past. This was as follows:

  • 55% were happy with their current arrangement
  • 22%  were uncertain as to whether their request for flexible working would be accepted

Survey respondents also highlighted a number of benefits they thought would arise as a result of the increasing uptake of flexible working practices. This includes:

  • 63% who felt it would help them to achieve a better work-life balance
  • 42% who thought it would boost morale
  • 28% who thought it would lead to a decrease in sickness absence rates
  • 27% who thought it would improve productivity

“Once the trust and change of mindset has been established the rewards of a flexible work force will become clear”

While noting that flexible working may be hard to implement in smaller firms in the short-term, Richard Smith, Head of Employment Law at Croner, argued that employers will reap the rewards of the practice in the long-term. He said:

“For SMEs, flexible working will not be the easiest policy to implement, particularly if there is sudden rush of applicants this July. However, once the trust and change of mindset has been established the rewards of a flexible work force will become clear.

“For those companies who have never offered flexible working or understand this new legislation it may come as a shock. Bosses should also note that if there is a genuine business reason they can turn down requests, but they will need to prove that they have been considered fully and the process well documented.”

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