Should new working mums be Newbury’s employers’ flexible friends?

20% of working mums felt pushed out of a job by a lack of flexible working options. Employees have a right to ask for flexible working; Employers don’t have an obligation to grant it.

Are employers missing out on a talented section of the workforce?

A recent national survey of 2,000 women found that almost one in five working mums felt they had been pushed out of work due to having a flexible working request refused. Is this legal? It obviously doesn’t help the mum’s involved, but does it help the business?

The first thing to stress is that there is no obligation on employers to grant a flexible working request, as long as they consider it in a reasonable manner. We know how tough it can be running a small business, and if the numbers don’t add up, then employers are well within their rights to refuse a request. However, all employees do have a right to request flexible working if they have been employed for 26 weeks or more. So what is a reasonable manner for considering a request? Guidance includes weighing up its advantages and disadvantages, discussing the request with the employee in a meeting and offering an appeal process. If an employer ignores this guidance an employee may have a case at an employment tribunal.

However, there is a lot to be said for flexible working. Sometimes, it just might not be practicable, but on other occasions it may allow you to match resource to peak demand efficiently; make for calmer, happy and unstressed employees, or simply help keep talent in the business. Clearly some companies recognise these benefits – in the same survey 10% of women described their job as extremely flexible.

Flexible working is one of those areas when a balance between good oldfashioned people management plus thinking outside the box can reap dividends for employer and employee alike.

If you would like specific advice and guidance on this and other aspect of people management please get in touch - Katie Aldridge 01635 613040.

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