Legal eagles hatch a plan for a flexible future

Legal eagles hatch plan for flexible future (Image credit: Thinkstock/eyecandy images)

This month has seen the government's Children and Families Act given Royal Assent, meaning it has successfully been passed through parliament and becomes part of UK legislation.

Whether you're a parent or not, this is something well worth sitting up and taking notice of if you're in charge of running a business.

The reason for this is that it could, in theory, bring about the single biggest change to the way we work in decades. This is because one key part of the law states that, from June 30th, all members of staff who have spent a minimum of six months at a company will be given the right to request flexible working.

Currently, this privilege has only ever been automatically granted to anyone with children under the age of 17, those with disabled youngsters and people who were considered to have caring responsibilities.

While it was previously at an employer's discretion to whether or not they wanted to offer this benefit to other personnel outside of this criteria, that choice is now being taken away from them. As a result, many are going to have to start thinking about how this could affect the daily running of their operations.

The thing is, employers can't just turn around to any requests for flexible working and say "no". There has to be a valid reason why, with the current procedure companies implement being replaced and the duty being place upon managers to look at all cases in a reasonable manner.

Flexible working for all

Employment relations minister Jenny Willott responded to the new law being passed by claiming the arrangements in place across organisations at the moment have simply become outdated, with the new Children and Families Act creating a much better environment for parents to balance their home and work lives.

Ms Willott added she hoped the updated legislation would remove any assumption flexible working was only applicable to women, parents or carers. Ideally, she noted, the reforms would fuel a complete culture change within UK business to enable workers to do their jobs well without sacrificing too much of their personal life.

One of the key benefits the politician cited was that this approach could be used as a tool to attract and retain female talent that may otherwise leave the world of work if they decide to start a family. At Buzz Conferencing, this is a topic we've spoken about at length in the past and couldn't agree more.

Conference calling holds the key

Just as this legislation can create a more flexible working day for staff, it can drive a workforce that is increasingly motivated, talented and open to change.

With this in mind, the reforms soon to come into force don't have to be a bad thing, nor do they have to be hard to implement.

For example, free conference call services can help to facilitate any changes to staff hours or where they are working from, by helping them communicate with colleagues as if nothing was any different.

The key to ensuring this approach is a success is doing everything possible to minimise disruption that might come about as a result of workers breaking from the routine they are used to.

Technology can play a key part in helping this along and managers need to be open to using new facilities they may have shied away from in the past, purely because they had less of a need to rely on it. 

For some, it's fair to say teleconferencing falls under this bracket. However, there is nothing to worry about. Setup is easy, with users not having to rely on complex installation procedures or high-speed internet connections. Even international calls can be made in this way, connecting personnel with clients or co-workers in other countries with ease.

The result is a more efficient, happier way of running a company.

So, from June 30th, get ready for a revolution. Flexible working for all is on its way and it's an exciting time for businesses and employees alike.