A recent YouGov poll indicates that fewer people than expected work a traditional 9am-5pm shift. The survey discovered that just 6% of people in the UK work such hours.
YouGov’s survey should not come as a surprise to employers as the UK is increasingly becoming a 24/7 economy.
In addition an increasing number of people are working their hours much more flexibly than before, such as homeworking, earlier start times and later finishes. This has been identified by YouGov as a growing preference for those who have additional commitments or constraints outside of work that would have made the traditional 9am-5pm shift unfeasible such as individuals with childcare responsibilities.
Due to the significant increase in employees working flexible hours, employers should be aware that employees with 26 weeks of continuous service have the statutory right to request flexible working.
Flexible working can be any kind of working which deviates from the employee’s existing or standard work pattern which could include compressed hours, flexitime, homeworking, job-sharing, staggered hours and part-time working.
If an employee wishes to request flexible working, the application must be submitted in writing, dated and state whether they have submitted any previous flexible working applications in the previous 12 months. Once an employer receives a formal flexible working request, the employer must give the application serious consideration with a decision relayed to the employee within three months.
An employer can reject a formal flexible working request but the employer must have a legitimate business reason for doing so. If an employer fails to follow a fair and reasonable procedure or does not provide a valid reason for rejecting the application, the employee could be awarded compensation by the Employment Tribunal. In addition, the failure could result in an employee losing their trust and confidence in the employer, potentially prompting the employee to resign and bring claims for discrimination and/or constructive dismissal.