A new survey from Acas has found that over a third of employers (36%) have seen an increase in staff working from home compared to 2022, after the rise in the cost of living.
Home or hybrid working are types of flexible working that some employees value as it helps them to balance their work and personal responsibilities, and reduce travel costs.
These types of working arrangements can help businesses attract and retain staff that value this flexibility and therefore remain more competitive.
Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said: “The cost of living pressures are impacting many people and it is unsurprising that over a third of employers have seen an increase in staff working from home.
“For some workers, the cost of commuting is eating into their budgets, while for others, going to their workplaces saves on home energy costs.
“It’s important for businesses to work with staff to agree suitable ways of working for specific roles, taking account of individual circumstances and regularly review arrangements. Acas has good practice in this area that can help.”
Acas’s advice for employers includes:
- A company home, hybrid or flexible working policy should explain how someone can request it, how job roles will be assessed and how decisions will be made
- Decisions around whether to agree to a staff request for home working should be fair and transparent
- Other forms of flexible working could be discussed as possible alternatives if home working is not practical for a specific role
- Familiarise yourself with Acas’s consultation on its new draft Code of Practice on handling requests for flexible working that has been updated to reflect shifts to flexible working and upcoming changes to the law
The new changes outlined in the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 will be coming into force next year.
Susan added: “Our new draft Code encourages employers to take a positive approach to flexible working and addresses all the new changes in the Act. We are keen to get views to ensure that it is clear and relevant for the modern workplace.
“We are also running a conference next month with guest speakers from the world of work that will cover all the draft changes to our Code as well as anticipated challenges and opportunities on flexible working that can arise for employees and businesses.”
The revisions in the draft Code include information on:
- Who should be allowed to accompany an employee at meetings to discuss a flexible working request
- The need for transparency about reasons for rejecting a request
- Making it clear that employers should proactively offer an appeal where a request has been rejected
The flexible working conference will be held on 7 September 2023 and is aimed at business owners, HR professionals, trade unions, employee representatives and anyone that wishes to further their professional development.
The draft Code of Practice consultation closes on 6 September 2023. To respond please see: www.acas.org.uk/flexible-working-code-consultation.
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