The Government brought in legislation on 30th June 2014 that allows all employees to request to work flexibly. Under this legislation their companies must seriously consider the request and may only refuse if there are business reasons. So flexible working: good or bad?
Whether or not this is a good law depends on whether managers embrace it and follow sound practice when implementing it.
Any negotiation of flexibility is likely to be a change to the employment contract between employee and employer. The arrangement then becomes unique to that person. It’s what’s called an idiosyncratic deal.
Research shows that idiosyncratic employment deals make employees feel special and enhance their commitment to their employer. In principle therefore, managers should embrace the new flexibility legislation because there’s an exchange to be had – commitment in return for flexibility.
The down side is that anything that is not standard and offered to all is likely to be seen as unfair. All employees evaluate management action and resulting deals. They seek two things: distributive justice and procedural justice.
Distributive justice means they’ll evaluate whether the idiosyncratic deal they have is, from their perspective, fair given the hours they work and the amount they get paid.
Procedural justice means they’ll want to be sure that the process that management went through in granting flexibility to them and other employees was fair. Examples of unfair procedures might include to cronyism and favouring friends, and might amount to discrimination.
Flexible Working: good or bad?
The conclusion is simple. The requirement to consider flexibility requests is now law. When a fair process is run for all, benefit can result. Success will depend on a robust flexibility process.