Should new working mums be employers’ flexible friends?

Should new working mums be employers’ flexible friends?
By Jan Sargent

A national survey of 2,000 women found that almost one in five working mums felt they had been pushed out of work due to having a flexible working request refused.

Is this legal? Obviously it doesn’t help the mum’s involved, but does it help the business?

The first thing to stress is there is no obligation on employers to grant a flexible working request, as long as they consider it in a reasonable manner. It can be tough running a small business, and if the numbers don’t add up, employers are well within their rights to refuse a request.

But all employees do have a right to request flexible working if they have been employed for 26 weeks or more.

What is a reasonable manner for considering a request? Guidance includes weighing up its advantages and disadvantages, discussing the request with the employee in a meeting and offering an appeal process. If an employer ignores this guidance an employee may have a case at an employment tribunal.

There is a lot to be said for flexible working. Sometimes, it just might not be practicable but, on other occasions, it may allow you to match resource to peak demand efficiently; and calmer, happy and unstressed employees, or simply help keep talent in the business. Clearly some companies recognise these benefits – in the same survey, 10% of women described their job as extremely flexible.

Flexible working is one area where a balance between good old-fashioned people management, plus thinking outside the box, can reap dividends for employer and employee alike. The HR Dept can advise local SMEs on this and every other aspect of people management.

Jan Sargent, is director of The HR Dept Salisbury, Winchester and Andover can be contacted for professional HR and employment law advice support, and will also happily review contracts and policies. No charge – just call us,

Jan Sargent and Julie Hutchison, Directors of Transforming Performance, can be contacted for support with Leadership, Team Performance, Coaching, Mentoring, Behavioural Profiling and Executive Coaching, among many other things. 01722 484155

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