Starting a conversation with your employer now will put you at the front of the queue when the expected deluge arrives
Now is a good time to make a flexible working request.
Companies are bracing themselves for an influx of flexible working applications after working dads embraced new ways of working this year. Those that get their requests in now are likely to be at the front of the queue.
She explained that companies have three months to respond to a flexible working request. So if you make an application now it’ll have to be dealt with by mid January. Many companies are expecting the deluge of flexible working requests to kick in as Covid restrictions ease up in the spring.
She said many firms are open to flexible working now. The pandemic experience had left bosses questioning the value of paying office costs. And John Adams added that “the productivity argument has been silenced” given the growing number of studies showing productivity held up or even improved when employees worked from home.
As it stands the law only requires employers to respond to one flexible working application a year from each worker. And the employee must have been with the company for 26 weeks. That doesn’t mean a working dad can’t make multiple applications or ask for ongoing alterations to their place or hours of work. However, bosses are only compelled to respond once a year.
Emily Pritty’s advice was to have an informal conversation with your line manager about flexible working before filling out the paperwork. The application can refer to hours and/or place of work. There are many different forms of flexible work to consider including homeworking, condensed hours, term time working and job shares.
Responding to a question about encouraging small and medium sized businesses to embrace flexible working Pritty explained that the positives apply no matter the size of the company. Employees are more committed and more productive if they work flexibly.
She said enquiries to the Working Families advice line had quadrupled at the start of the pandemic. The charity is still busy. She said just this week she’d received three enquiries from working dads. Each had asked about flexible working to cope with childcare issues and their employers had told them to ‘just deal with it’. “Increasingly fathers are getting penalised for childcare,” she said. “It’s a perverse sort of gender equality when everyone is getting penalised equally”.