Ask the expert: Flexible working

The Business Health Matters programme was created to help improve the overall health and wellbeing of employees in Lancashire. Businesses tell us that the health and wellbeing conversation can be overwhelming and that knowing where to start is notoriously difficult.

In this regular column, we answer your workplace health questions and help you find the support you need in your organisation.

Q: What does the EU Directive regarding flexible working mean for my business?

A: From the 2nd August 2022, EU member states implemented the EU Work-Life Balance Directive, which includes new rights for carers and working parents, with the aim of bringing more women into the labour market and helping to fight child poverty.

Amongst a range of rules that set out minimum standards for paternity, parental and carers’ leave, the directive states that some workers now have the right to request flexible working arrangements.

“All working parents with children of up to at least eight years old and all carers have the right to request reduced working hours, flexible working hours, and flexibility in the place of work.” (European Commission, 2022)

Post-Brexit, the UK is not required to implement these rules but has promised to match the rights for carers and is expected to adopt some of the directive’s steer on flexible working.

Many Lancashire businesses have already adopted a more flexible approach, as we see an increase in flexible working hours, hybrid working arrangements or additional wellbeing time offered.

This is increasingly important to employees, with a recent survey by Lewis Silkin (2021) on post-Covid employment policies, stating that 63 per cent of respondents said that flexibility is of more importance than work location when incentivising staff, with 33 per cent considering it as important as salary.

And this isn’t bad news for businesses. If implemented correctly, flexible working practices can increase productivity and lead to a much healthier and happier team.

Presenteeism, where employees force themselves into work when they are unwell or doing extra hours to prove their productivity, results in UK businesses losing up to 35 days per employee, per year (Financial Times, 2019).

By allowing your team to work more flexibly and take the time they need to ‘top up their tank’ before it runs on empty, your business will benefit from a more productive and healthier workforce that is made up of happier staff who want to stay around.

For advice on how to implement flexible working arrangements head to our ‘Flexible Working & Family Rights’ blog on www.businesshealthmatters.org.uk.

If you have your own question for the next issue, or you would like to find out more about how we can help you, email [email protected] or call 01772 299838.

Enjoyed this? Read more from Gemma Haigh, Business Health Matters

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