Why it Matters
Flexible working describes any type of working arrangement that gives some degree of flexibility on how long, where and when employees work. While the statutory right to request flexible working may have helped make flexible working a familiar phrase within workplaces, flexible working arrangements have been an option in many employment sectors for a long time, helping employers meet the changing needs of their customers and their staff:
• customers expect to have goods and services available outside of the traditional 9-5 working hours
• employees want to achieve a better balance between work and home life
• organisations want to meet their customers and employees needs in a way that enables them to be as productive as possible
Organisations are under constant pressure to produce goods and services, of the right quality and at the right price, as and when customers want them. To meet these demands sometimes new ways of working have to be found to make the best use of staff and resources. Flexible patterns of work can help to address these pressures by maximising the available labour and improving customer service.
As employers, organisations also have a ‘duty of care’ to protect their employees from risks to their health and safety. These risks might include stress caused by working long hours or struggling to balance work and home life. Flexible working can help to improve the health and well-being of employees and, by extension, reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, and enhance employee engagement and loyalty.
Flexible working arrangements are already used in many different employment sectors, such as:
• part-time work, often used in hotels, restaurants, shops, warehouses etc
• flexitime, mostly used in office-based environments for staff below managerial level in public and private sector service organisations
• annualised hours, often used in manufacturing and agriculture where there can be big variations in demand throughout the year
With developments in technology, particularly in the availability of communication tools (such as fast home broadband and smartphones), flexible working and work-life balance more and more roles could be compatible with some forms of flexible working arrangement.
Supporters of the Charter are extending flexible work with the following commitment:
"We will give employees the opportunity to work flexibly wherever possible, providing greater equality of opportunity, creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace and helping us make better use of the skills and talents of our workforce."
Charter Members will be expected to provide evidence of enabling a more flexible workforce to access a broad diversity of skills and talent:
- Designing jobs which flex wherever possible:
- Where people work (working from home; across different offices; mobile working);
- When people work (flexible start or finish times; annualised flexibility; compressed hours; project-based work; shift work); and
- How much people work (part-time; job sharing or job splitting; unpaid leave).
- Having a flexible working policy to:
- Encourage flexible working where appropriate and reasonable;
- Give every individual the opportunity regardless of circumstances to request and be considered for flexible working arrangements and for requests to be answered within 28 days;
- Regular review of flexible working arrangements.
- Advertising all jobs with clarity on the possibility of job flexibility from the outset.
Help to Achieve It
Resources for extending flexible work.
Acas is an independent, publicly-funded organisation that provides up-to-date information, independent advice, high quality training and works with employers and employees to solve problems and improve performance.
As of a partner of the GM Good Employment Charter, Acas has provided a document outlining their resources available to employers including online guidance, open access training, in-company training, and in-depth advisory work across the seven characteristics of good employment.
CIPD is the professional body for experts in people at work, championing better work and working lives by setting professional standards for HR and people development, as well as driving positive change in the world of work.
Access resources from CIPD, including research and insights, guidance and fact sheets, as well as podcasts and other useful tools to help you understand and meet the seven good employment characteristics set out in the Charter for Greater Manchester.
GMCVO Caring, Living, Working Toolkit
Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisations (GMCVO) is a voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector support and development organisation, covering the Greater Manchester city region.
Their Caring, Living, Working toolkit contains guides on how to recruit and retain employees requiring flexible working arrangements. Employers and returners are involved in the development of the toolkit, to ensure it contains appropriate and helpful advice to help work towards the good employment characteristics.