As business are increasingly adopting more agile working methods, your HR department may need to revisit its working policy to reflect the new norms.
In this article we’ll take a look at the role documentation plays in your flexible working strategy.
But first, let’s take a look at some of the ways flexibility in the workplace actually, well, works…
Flexible working practices
When employers think about flexible working they usually jump straight to homeworking. However, there are many ways you can practice workplace flexibility. For example:
- Job sharing – two people doing one job and splitting the hours
- Remote work – performing a role outside of the office/workplace
- Part time – working less than full-time hours
- Compressed hours – working full-time hours but over fewer days
- Flexitime – the employee chooses when they want to start and end work, but have ‘core hours’ where they must work
- Annualised hours – the employee works a certain number of hours over the year but there is a degree of flexibility as to when these are worked.
- Staggered hours – the employee has a different start, finish, and break times to their colleagues
- Phased retirement – older workers choose when they want to retire, this means reducing their hours and working part time
Within each of these different types of flexible working, there are terms that need to be agreed between employer and employee. These will be outlined in a flexible working contract. To draft this, you’ll need to identify the type of arrangement the employee is requesting...
What types of remote work are there?
Are they working from home all the time, part of the time, or none of the time? Do they have set days when they work from home, or can they pick and choose? Do they exclusively work from a home office, or can they work elsewhere?
Hybrid work doesn’t always look the same. You need to establish:
- Frequency of remote work
- Flexibility of remote work
- Location of remote work
Who can work remotely?
This is for you to determine. Some roles simply aren’t possible to perform remotely. However, even within those roles, an employee has the right to request flexible working.
You have no legal obligation to accept a request for flexible working hours or remote work. However, you should at least consider all requests that come to you, even if they aren’t viable.
If you have no good reason for rejecting a request for flexible work, you may not face a claim of unfair treatment, but it may affect staff retention.
What is a flexible working policy?
Your flexible work policy will set out your company’s stance on flexible working. You can go into further detail, and provide both a flexible working hours policy and a remote work policy. However, you only need to outline a few key details to have a strong policy.
What should I include in my flexible working policy?
The main points you need to address are the following:
- Who can work remotely
- Working hours for flexible workers
- Employee expenses
- Staff wellbeing
We’ll go into further detail on each section, and what to include, but first you need to have an introduction to your document. Tweak this flexible working policy template intro to create your own policy statement:
“Croner recognises that many of our staff have responsibilities & obligations outside of work. To help you meet those demands, we are happy to accept a flexible working request via our HR department. If you wish to submit a request, you can download a form to do so via our Company intranet. Fill out the details required in the form and submit to your line manager. Each request will be given full consideration and discussed with you. The wider needs of the business will be taken into account when assessing the suitability of your request.”
Who can work remotely
Outline who is eligible for remote work from the outset of employment. If you want requests to be made following a certain period of on-site work, detail this here.
Remember, employees who make an application for flexible working, can only do so once every 12 months.
Finally, detail what kind of change they can request. This means a change to working hours, their work week, and location of work.
For those who are requesting a change to working hours, outline any restrictions here. For example, you may have certain days that it is crucial everyone is in the workplace. Detail this here.
You might also allow a degree of flexibility to when staff can begin and end their work day. Make sure this is clear in this section of the policy.
Do employee have “core hours” or is it entirely flexible? Setting out these definitions in advance will save you a lot of stress when a request appears on your desk.
Optional: Working abroad
Some staff may already work abroad as part of their role, in which case their contract will cover the terms of this arrangement. However, it is important to outline whatever those terms are in a flexible working policy too.
On the other hand, you may be thinking: “my staff never need to work abroad, I don’t need to include this.” While this might seem correct, there are circumstances where this policy will come in very useful. For example, what if an employee is on holiday, and gets stranded abroad? Several days of lost work may be on the cards, so it is important to reflect your stance ahead of time.
If staff do work remotely, how will you keep in touch, and how often? Outline how you will conduct meetings, whether it is via video call, phone, or some other method.
Make sure the employee knows who to contact in case of an emergency. This is particularly important in cases of lone working.
For employees who are required to travel and work at different locations, you need to consider business expenses.
Similarly, certain roles will require you to provide specialist equipment.
Outline what will amount to an expense in this section of the policy. Explain who will pay it and how.
We’ve touched on this a little already, with lone working. Staff who work remotely may go long hours with little to no interaction with others. For some this can have a detrimental effect on their wellbeing.
Outline any support you provide as a business, such as an employee assistance programme (EAP). If not, point to external sources that the employee can lean on. It’s also useful to share wellbeing tips for those performing work alone.
Get your flexible work policy reviewed or built from scratch
A flexible working policy is a useful piece of documentation to have in the modern workplace. Even if your workplace cannot provide remote or hybrid work, it’s still a critical policy to have.
Our documentation experts review and build policies every day. Schedule a call with one of them today to discuss your flexible working policy, or any other HR document.
Call 01455 858 132 to book your documentation review today.
- Business Advice
- Contracts & Documentation
- Culture & Performance
- Disciplinary & Grievances
- Dismissals & Conduct
- Employee Conduct
- Employment Law
- End of Contract
- Equality & Discrimination
- Health & Safety
- Hiring & Managing
- Leave & Absence
- Managing Health & Safety
- Occupational Health
- Pay & Benefits
- Risk & Welfare