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Flexible working

Felicity Alexander

Editor's message: While planning for future work organisation, many employers will be reflecting on their experience of temporary flexible working arrangements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. These include the switch to working from home and flexibility around hours to help employees commute outside busy times, home school or have more choice on working hours generally. Employers may be expecting employee requests for permanent flexible working arrangements.

Based on their experiences and business needs, employers may consider a full or partial switch to homeworking for staff and flexible arrangements such as compressed hours (full-time hours over fewer days), annualised hours (fixed number of annual hours with core hours), job sharing and changes to start and finish times (flexitime). Agile working, a term used to describe a method of adaptable working that can respond quickly to business need, can include flexible working arrangements.

Providing opportunities for homeworking and flexibility on hours may be advantageous for employers in terms of reducing the need for workspace and increasing productivity from employees. Giving staff greater control over their work-life balance can also have a positive impact on their general health and wellbeing.

Employers should adopt a fair and consistent approach for flexible working for their workforce that avoids a potential discrimination claim. A permanent change to working hours or location will require a variation to employment contracts.

Felicity Alexander, managing editor, employment law

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