Businesses not prepared for flexible working, study finds

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Written by Seun Robert-Edomi on 5 June 2014 in News
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Despite 77 per cent of employees being unaware of the impending changes, one in three people of the UK workforce (35 per cent) already cite flexible working as the most important employer attribute, and two thirds (66 per cent) would request it given the opportunity to do so

With less than a month to go before the introduction of new flexible working legislation, new figures from online career portal Jobsite have revealed 53 per cent of British businesses are still unaware of the forthcoming changes.  
 
The new legislation, to be mandated from 30th June 2014, extends the right to request flexible working to all employees, regardless of dependents, providing they have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks. Of those that are aware, 25 per cent admit they haven’t thought about the impact this could have on their business. 
 
Despite 77 per cent of employees being unaware of the impending changes, one in three people of the UK workforce (35 per cent) already cite flexible working as the most important employer attribute, and two thirds (66 per cent) would request it given the opportunity to do so.
 
The most popular reasons cited by employees for wanting flexible working are having more time to spend with their children (46 per cent) and having time to focus on their hobby or study to improve their work-life balance (27 per cent). 
 
While the majority of employers are not prepared for flexible working, more than half (56 per cent) still believe the new flexible working laws will improve their business, as their employees will be happier. This is reinforced by almost a third (32 per cent) of employees feeling they would be more productive working the hours that most suit them. Some employers are hesitant, with almost a third (29 per cent) worried that they will be understaffed due to flexible working and almost a quarter (23 per cent) worried they will not be able to fulfill employees’ requests. 
 
Jobsite’s employment lawyer, Philip Landau said: “We are definitely advocates of flexible working and the benefits it brings to employers and employees alike.  With 67 per cent of people expecting to ask for flexible working, there is clearly a market demand. 
 
“However, the knowledge gap identified in our new research is worrying. Impacts should not be underestimated and we urge companies to use the next month to get prepared, or be prepared to be caught out.” 

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