With a new generation of employees now hitting the workforce, the traditional way of running businesses has changed.

One example is with working hours. Flexible working was introduced as a way to encourage a healthy work-life balance.

Over the last few years, the number of people working in part-time employment has increased. As well as those returning from starting a family and the effects of the gig economy, it’s also due to those struggling to maintain a healthy balance between their work and personal lives.

For those working in care, a flexible working arrangement may mean staff taking less time off for carers leave.

In this piece, we’ll define flexible working and the rules surrounding it. We’ll also explore the importance of this type of work for carers.

What is flexible working?

It’s a work pattern adapted to suit both you and your employees. There are different types of flexible working arrangements, examples include:

  • Changing to part-time hours.
  • Changing working days.
  • Changing full-time working hours.
  • Working your normal weekly hours in fewer days (compressed hours).
  • Working from home part or fulltime (homeworking).
  • Retain two people for the same position on a part-time basis (job sharing).
  • Work usually rotating but specified hours (shift working).
  • Using technological advances to work from remote locations (teleworking).
  • Calculating working hours based on annually instead of weekly (annualised hours).

Unlike the United Kingdom, there’s no legal right to flexible working. However, since the introduction of the Code of Practice on Access to Part-time Work in 2006, it’s now become a best practice for employers have policies on improving access to part-time work.

Employees can make requests for flexible working. As an employer, you should have a procedure in place that allows for a discussion between yourself and the employee before making a decision. Remember to consider:

  • The employee’s personal needs.
  • The staffing needs for the company.
  • The implications to the business and their co-workers.

To avoid claims of discrimination, you must consider all request for flexible working fairly and in accordance with the employment equality legislation.

The importance of flexible working for carers

Accommodating flexible working requests can be a challenge especially for those in the care sector.

The work itself is one that can do with allowances for flexible working. It involves rotating working hours, usually long travel times and unsociable hours.

However, from the point of view of the employer, it may be tricky, as you’ll need to ensure there’s sufficient staff to cover at all times.

And there are benefits for employers and employees.

For employers

  • Boost employee morale.
  • Reduce absenteeism.
  • Reduce employee turnover.
  • Improve wellbeing.
  • Enhance company image as a family-friendly employer.
  • Increase productivity.

For employees

  • Better work/life balance to meet personal and family needs.
  • Less stress.
  • Increased job satisfaction.
  • Reduced expenses and time spent commuting.
  • More control over working hours and environment.

Final note Remember, while it may be a challenge to create a flexible working policy, the rewards are well worth it. As well as easing your staff’s work/life balance, you can also reduce business costs, improve output and ensure the loyalty of your staff.