Millions in United Kingdom can work flexible hours under new rules
Jo Swinson, the employment relations minister, said the changes would boost the UK economy because productivity would rise with happier employees.
Under the new rules, 20 million employees across the country are entitled to ask for flexible hours, including working from home. Employers will be obliged to consider requests reasonably, and millions are expected to take advantage of the changes. Until now, only parents and employees with other caring duties about 10 million people have had the right to request flexible working.
In an interview to The Independent, Swinson said: ‘Sometimes, because this has been a right to request that only parents have had, that can create, in some workplaces, a bit of tension when parents get special treatment.’
She said the new rules could involve compressed hours, where individuals do five days’ work in four, staggered hours to avoid the stresses of rush hour, or working from home.
‘Employers often find that this leads to employees being much more motivated, productive, less likely to leave. So that cuts down their staff recruitment costs. It really can be a win-win,’ the Liberal Democrat minister said.
‘You get staff that are happy and more productive and the employers benefit from that as well. And lots of businesses are very positive about this; in a British Chambers of Commerce survey, 70 per cent of businesses reported an improvement in employee relations when they used flexible working.
‘We live in a globalised society, we have technology which enables us to be doing work not just from physically being there at the workplace but actually doing so at different times of the day and from different places’. she said. Swinson acknowledged that there would be some sectors, such as retail, where flexible working would not be practical.