Flexible working can benefit you and your employees. It allows employees to work around their personal commitments and enables you to adapt to busy and quiet times.

Your employees are legally entitled to make a statutory application for flexible working. You have a duty to consider these applications in a reasonable way by taking action, such as:

  • Assessing the pros and cons of the request
  • Meeting with your employees to discuss the request

Ways your employees can work flexibly

You can keep some flexible working arrangements informal. However, whenever possible, it’s recommended to have official agreements in place. By using software such as BrightHR’s Employee Hub, you’ll be able to update documents to reflect changes in your flexible working procedure. Your employees will also be able to keep themselves in the loop as they’ll have easy access to relevant documents.

Here are some ways your employees can work flexibly:

  • Job sharing, where two employees share the work of one full-time job
  • Compressed work hours, to allow your employees to complete their working hours in fewer days
  • Term-time working, which lets permanent employees take paid or unpaid leave during school holidays

Types of flexible employment contracts

As well as allowing your employees to work flexibly, you can also hire new employees on flexible employment contracts.

Zero hour contracts

You don’t need to allocate a set amount of hours to people on a zero hour contract. They have the right to decide whether they’ll do the work you offer.

People who are on zero hour contracts can be either employees or workers. They aren’t self-employed or contractors. This means they’re entitled to statutory employment rights.

A zero hour contract should have clauses that clarify the following:

  • Availability for work - how you will inform the worker that they need to work
  • Hours - the work will vary depending on your business needs and the workers should be flexible
  • Pay - is only given for the hours worked. Zero hour contract workers are entitled to the minimum wage
  • Annual leave - details about how leave is worked out

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 rules out using exclusivity terms or clauses in zero hour contracts. This means that you’re not allowed to include provisions to stop zero hour contract workers from looking for work and working for someone else. If you’ve included exclusivity terms in your zero hour contract, the worker can disregard them.

Fixed-term employment contract

You need to provide a fixed-term contract when you take on employees for a defined period or project. Fixed-term employees have rights under the Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002. These regulations give fixed-term employees the same fundamental rights as full-time employees.

A fixed-term employment contract should contain all the standard provisions relating to issues like:

  • Annual leave
  • Sickness
  • Pay
  • Pensions

The fixed-term contract provision can be used:

  • For a set number of months or years
  • When a specific task or project is done
  • When your permanent employee comes back to work, e.g. from maternity leave

You should also think about including a clause stating what happens if you need to end the fixed-term contract before the agreed end date. If you choose not to insert an early termination clause, the fixed-term employee could sue you for damages.
You’re obligated to consider requests for flexible working. You might also want to take on flexible workers to operate your business. It’s important to use a tool that makes it simple to make changes to your flexible working policy and that staff can have at their fingertips. BrightHR’s Employee Hub ticks all the boxes for updating employee and worker records.

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