Friday, 08 June 2018 14:59

Not Always Doing Things Your Way

In case you haven’t already worked it out already, Employment Law is generally written for the benefit of the employee. As new legislation is introduced or modified, employers might find themselves having to make adjustments in working practices that are outside their comfort zones or go against long established management practices and expectations. For some managers and directors, it might even feel like their authority is being undermined.

It’s important to exercise reserve and caution when faced with a situation or request which at one time may have simply been disregarded as unreasonable. Employee rights have come a long way in recent years and with them, employee expectations. Furthermore, following the abolition of Tribunal fees just under 12 months ago, it’s all too easy, and some would say tempting, for an employee to submit a Tribunal claim because things haven’t gone his or her way.

Take flexible working requests as an example. All employees have a right to request to work flexibly, ie, make changes to their working arrangements that reflect their needs. Possible requests might include working part-time, working from home, job sharing or working staggered hours.  

Where a few years ago, you might have been laughed out of the office if you had asked your boss if you could reduce your working week by two days, or finish every day at 3.00pm, today such requests must be dealt with in a ‘reasonable manner’. This includes assessing the pros and cons of the request, holding a meeting to discuss the request with the employee and offering an appeals process if it is rejected.

This exercise in itself may be considered as onerous by the employer. And if the request is accepted there is the added costs work that it potentially brings.

If someone needs to be recruited to cover the original employee’s reduced hours there could be recruitment costs to consider or overtime costs for existing staff. An extra employee means an extra person to manage so more regular reviews and appraisals. Plus there may be extra benefits to finance.

Rather than bemoan such developments in employee rights and fight against them however, we think the answer is to embrace them.

We have often discussed the importance and advantages of being seen as a good employer. Improved staff retention, better morale and greater productivity being the most obvious. Moreover, with a workforce increasingly populated by ‘Millenials’, work life balance is quickly becoming the priority for employees, over and above pay. Failure to meet the needs of the future workforce may mean no new recruits.

To stay ahead of the curve, business will need to implement a strategy for how they manage what we can only expect to be an increase in employees exercising their rights and expecting greater freedom. More flexible working requests, more transient employees and shorter employment lifespans are likely to become par for the course.

The key for employers is to be prepared. Fully fleshed-out organisational and succession plans that are aligned with the vision for the business as a whole are a good place start. Implementing a tactical approach to alternative working patterns that allow for compromise whilst retaining the best employees will also put you in good stead.

Re-assessing our expectations of what employees want from their jobs and careers, and then reacting in a positive way will be a necessity if we want our businesses to continue to thrive.

For support with organisational development and structure contact us on 01452 331331 or follow one of the links below.


Read 2060 times Last modified on Wednesday, 13 June 2018 08:56


HR Champions provide first class HR and Employment Law support and advice to UK businesses; operationally and strategically. If you're an employer you'll potentially need some, if not all, of the services we offer.

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