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Equality North East

Flexible Working

From 6 April 2011, parents of children aged under 18 have the right to apply to work flexibly and their employers will have a duty to consider these requests seriously. As from April 2007 carers of adults have a right to request flexible working.

This system of working gives employees the scope to chose their start and finish times. Employees can fit their working time into fewer, longer working days. It makes it less likely that employees will turn up late for work and management can control the number of hours that can be taken as flexi-leave.

The benefits to employees are:
- Ease of picking up and collecting children from school.
- Time is available to take in an emergency.
- Time can be built up to take time off for specific reasons.

The benefits to employers are:
- Employees find it easier to manage their time and are therefore less stressed and more productive.
- A reduction in one off absences.

Managing Flexible working

- Employees needs and circumstances will change over a period of time and alternatives arrangements may need to be made with these changes. For some, flexible working may only be necessary on a temporary basis due to short term changes in circumstances.
- Small employers should select family friendly policies that can cope with a small workforce.
- Involve staff in the decision on which family friendly policies are most practical and focus your efforts on those.
- Make use of free sources of advice such as local Learning and Skills Councils, or Business Links.
- Do not estimate the value of child care information helplines.
- Giving a subsidy to holiday play schemes or joint child care schemes between large firms and smaller employers can help spread costs of going it alone. For example, Midland Bank and Sainsburys' joined together with local employers to provide child care for staff.
- In the case of women returning after childbirth, employers should consider all requests to change working hours, for example; re-organising work amongst other staff, recruiting an extra part time worker, assessing whether the job can be split into a job share position.
- Always discuss with the employee their ideas. Donít assume that one option will fit all. Work within guidelines to adapt policies to fit the need of the employee.


Employees work form home from a PC and stay in contact with their office via the telephone or email. Employees can spend part or all of their time working from home although spending at least part of the time in the workplace helps to avoid becoming isolated.

The benefits to the employee are:
- Flexibility in making child care arrangements
- Less time taken off work to look after a sick child.

The benefits to the employer are:
- Improved productivity because home workers can schedule there working patterns to fit in at their most productive time.
- Fewer overheads in terms of office space.

March 23, 2011

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