Working 9 to 5 – No Longer The Way To Make A Living?

The Wilkes Partnership, Employment Law Birmingham Solihull Lisa Moore

A recent YouGov survey has indicated that the traditional working hours of 9-5 are becoming a thing of the past.

Sarah Begley of The Wilkes Partnership considers the key findings.

The survey of over 4000 participants showed that in fact just 6% of people in the UK worked such hours. The most popular hours of choice by full-time workers were 8am to 4pm (37%) with 7am to 3pm (21%) being the second most popular option.

Successful flexible working arrangements such as working from home, compressed hours or days and job sharing enables employees to meet their outside work commitments. However, interestingly, the survey found that having a degree of flexibility was important to working people of various ages and at different stages in their life and career. In other words, it is a misconception to conclude that this manner of working is only attractive to parents or carers.

It is 2018 and we work in an ever changing world where the demands on our time is seemingly 24/7. The ability to be able to work flexibly can lead to enhanced motivation and productivity in the workplace and ultimately, improve our health and wellbeing. This is great news for businesses too. Research suggests that increased employee morale, engagement, and commitment to their employer reduces absenteeism and increases business efficiency.

However, the uptake of flexible working is still low and it is important that employers and employees are aware of the law surrounding flexible working requests.

To be an eligible employee, you need to have completed 26 weeks of continuous employment. A request for flexible working must be in writing and specify that it is a flexible working request. The employee must explain the change being requested and propose a start date; identify the impact the change would have on the business and how that might be dealt with; and state whether there has been any previous flexible working requests.

The request (and any appeal) must be heard and a decision given within 3 months of receipt of the request and employees can only make one request in any 12 month period.

Businesses need to be mindful of additional rights under discrimination law some employees may have when making a flexible working request. For example, a request may be made on the basis of childcare commitments, religious or disability reasons. In such cases, it is  important to carefully consider any such request and have a justifiable business reason for refusal. A failure to do so could give rise to claims of (sex, race or disability) discrimination, irrespective of that employee’s length of service.

Sarah Begley comments “Flexible working requests are nothing new but it is surprising to learn that the uptake rates are still so low. This could be due to a lack of awareness on the part of employees of their legal rights in this regard and perhaps a misunderstanding that it is something only available to parents or carers. Likewise, businesses themselves may not advertise their roles as being ones which can be fulfilled using different working arrangements”.

For advice on any employment related matter please contact Sarah Begley 0121 733 4312 or sbegley@wilkes.co.uk.  You can also reach any member of the Employment Team on 0121 233 4333.