Since the beginning of the pandemic, employers have had to adapt constantly to new government guidelines and sanctions regarding the workplace. It has been a confusing time for everyone involved and the role of employers regarding COVID-19 has been crucial throughout. The most important aspect has been and will continue to be the health and wellbeing of their employees and themselves. However, it is also essential that government advice is followed, and professional advice is sought where necessary. One of the key aspects affecting innumerable employers has been remote working, and the balancing act of home-schooling and/or childcare for many nationwide, as well as supporting their vulnerable family members. As a result, employers have been encouraged to be flexible, as these situations are not reflective of usual working patterns and needs.
Under current legislation, any employee with more than 26 weeks continuous service may make a formal request for flexible working to their employer. They can only submit one request in a 12-month period. Upon receipt of a request, the employer is required to consider the employee’s request in a reasonable manner and within a reasonable timeframe. Flexible working is necessary during the current climate and enables employees to be able to accommodate sudden caring responsibilities and illness. Due to the pandemic, you, as an employer, could allow flexible working requests for those with less service at your discretion. The most important thing is to maintain communication, ensure that you are available to your employees where necessary and encourage them to come to you with any problems so that you can find solutions together.