Real Employment Law Advice

How flexible are you?

On Monday 6th June 2022 various companies began a 6month pilot of a 4-day working week, which provides employees with 100% of their pay for 80% of their usual hours. The idea behind the pilot is to focus on employees working fewer but more productive hours.

The new approach looks at whether it is possible to maintain the same quality of work being produced by workers but at the same time cutting down on overall costs and improving staff wellbeing and engagement.

However, one of the key issues that needs to be considered by companies who may be considering a 4-day working week is whether it is a model that can be implemented within the organisation, whilst still ensuring that all business needs continue to be met across the full working week.

Another critical issue that can be easily overlooked is the impact on current part-time workers and ensuring that comparable measures are implemented for all employees so as to avoid unfavourable treatment to part-time workers.

One thing that many employers will be keeping their eye on is whether other forms of flexible working are more appropriate, or if they are having trouble in implementing flexible working, if a 4-day working week is a sensible alternative.

Is flexible working key to a successful workplace?

The Government have over the last year been looking at ways to make flexible working ‘part of the workplace DNA’, and, with the majority of millennials identifying flexibility as a top priority within the workplace it is certainly something that employers need to be considering seriously.

So, what are the key benefits?

  1. Productivity – there is evidence that people will work when, where and how they want a lot more productively and will very often be a lot more willing to go above and beyond.
  1. Say goodbye to 9-5 – the workplace is fast being taken over by technology and having the ability to work outside of the standard 9-5 will mean that companies are able to offer greater customer service via extended hours, as well as across different time zones if necessary.
  1. Recruitment – smaller companies can sometimes find it difficult competing with larger companies in their recruitment process and therefore offering flexible working can provide them with a competitive edge. Where they previously could not compete with other staff benefits of larger companies, flexibility is often easier to achieve in smaller businesses. In turn this can often mean that they can look at a larger pool of talent when recruiting.
  1. Wellbeing – flexible working is known to help improve staff wellbeing and staff retention.

Flexible is the future

I believe flexible working will soon become the norm, especially with the adaptation of home working during Covid.  With most companies realising the benefits of flexible and hybrid working it is safe to say they will be watching the outcome of the pilot with interest.

I’d be really interest in knowing what your thoughts/experience is with flexible working? Has it worked well for you, or has it proved difficult to implement? Please leave a comment below or connect with me on LinkedIn here to let me know your thoughts.

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2 Responses

  1. I can see that those who are office based or “work in the field” can with good internet work more flexibly but I’m concerned that once the honey moons over and a shorter week becomes the norm company’s well will see a drop in productivity. How will you measure and maintain each persons productivity? It reminds me of when we introduced CNC machines in the factory and the staff were enthusiastic about only having perfectly made components to assemble and we saw a 20% improvement in productivity. But within a year productivity dropped back to what it was before and the workforce had become less skilled. It depends on what business your in, but I fear those in manufacturing will end up employing more staff to keep up output and have the additional costs of more training, induction, HR and health and safety to navigate. Unless of course they can find ways to improve productivity to justify 5 days pay for 4 days work and measure it with the staff on board. If you can do that, a good manager should be doing it now. It may be with the drop in living standards those on low wages will be looking for a second job and working longer hours not less?

    1. You make some very good and valid points Graham. It will be interesting to see how many of those businesses who trial 4 day working maintain it after the trial.

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The information contained in this blog post is provided for guidance and is a snapshot of the law at the time it is written. It is provided for your information only and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice that it specific to your particular circumstances.

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