As I’m sure most of you will be aware, all 30 million workers in the UK now have the right to ask for flexible working hours.
Prior to June 30 it was just parents and carers, and the effects of this new move will be played out throughout the land, gradually changing the UK work culture.
This change has received a high media profile and as lawyers involved in this area of law we have listened avidly to the arguments for and against flexible working hours.
Some have said that an old-fashioned mindset has, until now, dictated workers have to be in an office to get their work done.
However, employment law specialists like us are predicting a big rise in the number of workplace grievances, as well as more tension between the workers who get what they want and those who don’t.
Such is the nature of office politics – with its different characters – flexible working will unquestionably add to tensions, but this problem shouldn’t detract from the positives.
We now live in a global economy, have technology which allows us to do work away from the office – and this means, in many cases, being chained to your desk from nine to five may not always be productive.
In the right circumstances, the new move will lead to more motivated employees, which will help boost businesses and mean fewer cars on the roads in rush hour – helping us get around our towns and cities easier.
On the negative side, though, we could have a situation where someone wants to go to the health club in the morning battling for flexibility with a parent. It could be down simply to first come first served.
What has to be highlighted, though, is these new rules are a ‘right to ask’ rather than a ‘right to have’.
What will be uppermost in employers’ minds will be productivity and the effect on the business – and we hope that rational decisions will win out in the majority of cases, so good employers can keep those who have been left disappointed on-side.
However, of course, there will be instances where this won’t happen. Such is life.
Whatever your views on flexible working rights it is here now and we hope that it makes Britain’s workforce happier and more productive.
It’s certainly going to add a new dynamic to the offices and factories the length and breadth of the land.