Flexible Working Arrangements Policy Template, Procedures & Guidelines

Published:

Nov 30, 2022

In today's changing work environment, flexibility is more than just a perk; it's a necessity for attracting and retaining your top talent, so it is something you need to get right. 

As a result, a flexible working policy outlines the ways and procedures in which an organisation allows its employees some degree of flexibility in how, where, and when they work. 

In this guide, we will help you understand the critical components of a flexible working policy and how to implement it effectively for your company.


Top Features of a Flexible Working Policy

Flexible Working policies bring many features to the forefront when it comes to managing your employees' working patterns.

With some of the top features consist of the following:

✅ Flexible working allows your employees to manage their work commitments more effectively alongside your personal responsibilities, hobbies, and time off periods, leading to a better balance between professional and personal life.

✅When employees have control over their work schedules and environments, they tend to be more satisfied with their jobs. This increased satisfaction can lead to a more productive output.

✅Flexible working, especially in the form of remote work, can significantly reduce - or eliminate - the time and expense associated with commuting, providing both financial benefits and additional personal time for your employees.

✅ Offering flexible working options can make an organisation more attractive to prospective employees and help to retain its current staff by meeting their evolving needs and expectations.

✅Employees with flexible working arrangements often show lower levels of absenteeism, as they can adjust their work schedules to accommodate doctor appointments, school assemblies, or recovering from illness at home without taking a whole day off. 

This allows them to manage personal emergencies more effectively while still delivering the same output for the business.


Table of Contents

  • What is a Flexible Working Policy, and What is Its Purpose?

  • Understanding Flexible Working

  • Why is a Flexible Working Policy Important?

  • Critical Components of a Flexible Working Policy Template

  • How to Implement a Flexible Working Policy?

  • What Are The Common Pitfalls of a Flexible Working Policy?

  • Does an Employee Have to Give a Reason for Flexible Working?

  • Is a Flexible Working the Same as a Home, Hybrid or Agile Working?

  • Flexible Working Policy Final Thoughts

  • Ready to Get Started?

What is a Flexible Working Policy, and What is Its Purpose?

A flexible working policy sets out a procedure for employees to exercise their statutory right to make a flexible working request.

In the UK, for instance, only employees with 26 weeks’ service or more are permitted to make such a request.

Furthermore, you / the employee need to be an official employee, not under an adviser agreement or a consultancy contract, and you have yet to make a flexible working request within the last 12 months under the statutory flexible working regime. 

Understanding Flexible Working

Flexible working can include a variety of arrangements, such as:

  • Remote work

  • Flexitime

  • Compressed hours

  • Job sharing

  • Part-time work


The goal is always to create a work environment that supports diverse needs and preferences, enhancing both your employee well-being and organisational performance simultaneously.

Is Flexible Working the Same as a Home, Hybrid or Agile Working?

Even though these terms are often interchangeable, they have several core differences. Such as:

Agile Working

Agile working refers to the methods and practices that enable flexibility in your workplace, which are enabled through various working models - as well as being more activity-based. 

Flexible Working

Flexible working is more focused on the timing aspect of your employees and on adjustments to traditional working hours to support a healthier work-life balance between professional and personal life.

For instance, flexibility could include some work from home, some in the office, or all in the office, just at varying times.

Hybrid & Home Working

Hybrid and home working, on the other hand, more clearly define for your organisation the actual location aspect for your employees - combining more remote and office-based activities for your employees.

This style encourages a mix of settings to provide an optimal working environment that leverages the advantages of both scenarios.

Why is a Flexible Working Policy Important?

It is important that your employees are aware of their right to request flexible working and that employees (and line managers) are aware of the procedure that will be followed if such a request is made.

Non-Contractual 

Without a clear procedure in place, disputes about flexible working and allegations of inconsistency of treatment between different employees within your workforce are more likely to arise. 

Consequently, a flexible working policy is usually non-contractual.

This means that an employer can make changes to the policy without the employee's agreement. 

It also means that if an employer does not follow the procedure in the letter, it will not amount to a breach of contract, therefore not enabling the employee to bring a claim against the employer.


Flexible Working Policy Template Critical Components

When it comes to Flexible Working Policies, this policy can be broken down into several core areas, such as for instance:

Eligibility

An eligibility section defines who qualifies for flexible working. 

While it's beneficial to offer flexibility to all employees, specific roles may require a physical presence or fixed core hours compared to others.

Types of Flexibility Offered

It should clearly outline the types of flexible working arrangements available. 

This could, for instance, range from telecommuting options all the way to flexible start and end times.

Request Process

You should establish a simple and transparent process for requesting flexible working arrangements. 

This could include details on how to submit a request, any required documentation, and the approval process, to name a few.

Trial Periods

Consider implementing trial periods for new flexible working arrangements to ensure they meet the needs of both the employees and the organisation. 

This way, a trial period can see how this change reflects a change in your employee's output.

Performance Management

It could also detail how performance will be measured and managed. 

It's crucial to focus on outcomes and productivity rather than just hours worked.


Communication Expectations

You should also set clear expectations for communication. This includes the availability during certain hours and preferred methods of communication. Hence, both you and your employees understand the expectations of how they will be available.

This could be via a Online Messaging Platform such as Teams Chat, Slack, or Google Chat.


Technology and Support

Technology is the key to remote working. As a result, you should outline the technology and support available to help flexible working occur.

This may include remote access to systems, collaboration tools, and IT remote support, to name just a few examples.

Review and Adaptation

You should also include a mechanism within your organisation for regularly reviewing and adapting this policy as needed. 

This could be in the way of feedback from employees who can provide valuable insights for improvements, for instance.



How to Implement a Flexible Working Policy?

Implementing a Flexible working policy is just as important as creating one in the first place. 

Consequently, some of the steps to take around this area, for instance, can consist of the following:

Leadership Buy-in

Getting your senior leadership to buy into the concept can help get this policy implemented. 

For instance, demonstrating the benefits of flexible working, such as increased productivity and employee satisfaction, can help you in this regard.

Communicating the Policy

Communicate the policy clearly to all employees. 

This includes the benefits, the reasons behind the policy, and how it will be implemented should also be an explicit consideration.

Training

Ask your HR team to provide training for your managers on how to manage flexible teams effectively.

This could, for instance, be more focused on setting clear objectives, measuring performance, and maintaining team collaboration.

Monitor and Evaluate Effectiveness

By regularly monitoring and evaluating the policy's effectiveness, you can gather feedback from your employees and managers while adjusting the policy as necessary to meet the organisation's goals.

Promote a Culture of Trust

By creating a culture of trust and mutual respect within your organisation, your employees will naturally feel more engaged and have an increased sense of loyalty.

Flexible working also relies on trust between your employees and managers that work will be completed effectively, regardless of location or hours of the day.

What Are The Common Pitfalls of a Flexible Working Policy?

There can be a lot of common pitfalls around a Flexible Working Policy. Some of these, for instance, can consist of the following:

Not having a Flexible Working Policy

Without a flexible working policy, your employees and line managers will not be aware of the legal framework relating to flexible working requests and the standard employer’s procedure that applies when a flexible working request is received.

This, in turn, may lead to disparity in treatment between your staff and, hence, disputes, which in turn can lead to legal disputes due to unfair employee treatment.

Having a Contractual Flexible Working Policy

The employment contract contains the terms and conditions that govern an employee’s employment. Consequently, if this policy becomes part of the employee contract, then changes cannot generally be made without the consent of both parties. 

Usually, an employer will want to make changes to its policies and procedures regularly and, in certain situations, may wish to avoid following them to the letter.

For these reasons, the flexible working policy should be non-contractual so that it does not form part of the employment contract and changes can be made more quickly.

Otherwise, it will need to obtain staff agreement to any changes, however small.

Therefore, the flexible working policy should clearly state that it is not contractual, i.e., that it does not form part of the employment contract.

ACAS Code of Practice for Employers

The ACAS Flexible Working Policy in the UK also produces a code of practice for employers on how to handle flexible working requests - which employers should read - and an accompanying flexible working and work-life balance guide, which is also worth a read,

Including Too Much Legalese and Detail

The best policies are always clear, concise, and easy to navigate and understand.

Consequently, policies that are long, unwieldy and full of jargon are unlikely to be used or understood.

Not keeping Your Flexible Working Policy Updated

Employment law changes frequently. Consequently, you should regularly review your personalised finished policy to ensure that, as an employer, you remain legally compliant when changes to the law do happen.


Do Employers Have to Allow Flexible Working?

The question of whether an employer has to allow flexible working really lies in where your employees are located and under what jurisdictions they fall in.

For instance:

UK Flexible Working

In the UK, employers are required to consider flexible working requests from employees who have completed 26 weeks of continuous employment in a reasonable manner. 

While employers are not obligated to grant every request, they must follow a fair process and provide legitimate business reasons for any refusal.

U.S. Flexible Working

In the U.S., employers are not federally mandated to allow flexible working arrangements, but some states and regional localities may have specific regulations encouraging or requiring some flexibility. 

If you have employees who are residents of a certain state, you should seek legal guidance for their region to be on the safe side regarding what to include in your policy for these employees.

EU Flexible Working

In the EU, for instance, employers are increasingly encouraged to accommodate flexible working arrangements. However, specific regulations vary from country to country.

This is because EU directives and local laws often promote work-life balance, suggesting to employers that they consider flexible working requests but not mandating their acceptance in all cases.

If you have employees who are members of an EU country, just as with the U.S., you should seek legal guidance for their region to be on the safe side as well.

Does an Employee Have to Give a Reason for Flexible Working?

In almost all jurisdictions, employees requesting flexible working arrangements are required to provide a rationale for their request - and in some cases, like the UK, this can be more detailed than others.

This helps employers assess the feasibility and impact of the proposed changes in the broader company.

The requirement for a reason also helps to align employee needs with the organisation's capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses to make sure the company can still function the same and that technology, redundancy processes, and backups are in place to make it work.

Flexible Working Policy Final Thoughts

A well-crafted flexible working policy can lead to a more motivated, satisfied, and productive workforce that achieves more in the same period. 

Consequently, by considering the needs of both the organisation and its employees, you, as an employer, can create a supportive and flexible work environment that benefits everyone.

Just remember, flexibility is not one-size-fits-all; it's about finding the right balance that works for each unique situation and each organisation.


Ready to Get Started?

Create your flexible working policy in minutes. The Pocketlaw platform offers AI-powered drafting support, a clever contract management system and eSigning. You can also automate your own legal templates to turn your standard templates into dynamic workflows.

Disclaimer:
Please note: Pocketlaw is not a substitute for an attorney or law firm. So, should you have any legal questions on the content of this page, please get in touch with a qualified legal professional.

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