Flexible working

Although the right to request flexible working now extends to all employees with 26 weeks’ service, business opinion on flexible working is mixed; some feel it undermines teamwork and a collaborative culture, others that it demonstrates trust and leads to better work-life balance, both significant factors in attracting and retaining staff.

This year’s Randstad Award report shows ‘good work-life balance’ ranked higher than ‘flexible working’ (51% and 32%). Both ‘too many extra hours’ and ‘evening/weekend work’ are cited respectively as unbalancing factors. Fewer or adapted working hours and a more relaxed work schedule are also the three key benefits that encourage older employees to continue working.

‘Unsociable hours’

There is no legal obligation to make extra payments for working unsociable hours unless it is included within contracts, although custom and practice might in effect give such payments contractual status. Pay structures for unsociable hours (e.g. rises in hourly rates based on when employees were asked to work) were common in the past, but as flexible working and unsociable hours has become more widespread, these payments are generally included in normal terms and conditions rather than as separate allowances.

However, it may be that making extra payments for working unsociable hours is good practice, particularly when arguments about staff retention are added to the mix. Similarly, flexible working hours, split shifts or the chance to work from home during unsociable hours can be an incentive to attract and retain workers.