What is Flexi-time?
Employment patterns are changing. In the past, employees in almost every sector would expect to work set hours for a set wage; they would traditionally come into the office at 9am and leave at 5pm, with a couple of breaks during the day. In exchange they would draw either a set salary or a wage. However, as the focus of the economy has shifted towards administration and the service sectors, employment practices have shifted with them. Today non-financial benefits may complement, or be taken in place of part of, a salary, and employees are frequently no longer required to work set hours. Instead, flexible working patterns are becoming more and more widespread.
New Work Patterns
It is estimated that around 25% of all employees now have a flexible work arrangement, frequently referred to as 'flexitime'. These arrangements are sometimes offered by employees as part of their benefits package, but it is becoming more and more common for this to be part of the standard contract of employment. This was reinforced in 2003, when the government gave employees a legal right to demand a flexible work arrangement if they were a parent of a child under the age of six. The benefits of a flexible arrangement for the employee are obvious; while they will be expected to work a certain number of hours during each week or month, when these hours are made up will be up to them. This gives employees valuable freedom to balance work and non-work life. Furthermore, an efficient flexible work scheme can significantly reduce the amount of leave and overtime requested by employees, thus saving the employer money.
The benefits of flexible work arrangements for employers can be just as significant. If you are considering offering flexitime as part of your benefits package, you may well find that the productivity of your workforce increases drastically, as employees are more likely to feel that they are in the office of their own volition. This generally makes for a happier workforce. Similarly, flexitime is one of the most popular employee benefits in this country. As such, offering it as a core part of your benefits scheme is likely to increase goodwill on the part of your employees. While flexible working arrangements are mainly extended to those in administrative jobs, you should consider offering flexitime to as many employees as possible.
As has been mentioned, employers have a legal responsibility to provide flexible working arrangements in certain circumstances. Parents of disabled children under the age of 18 also have a right to a flexible arrangement, as do those who are part-time carers for adults. Over and above these legal responsibilities, however, flexible arrangements are attractive as benefits, and should be seriously considered. This type of scheme is cheap and easy to implement, and can yield a significant return on a fairly insignificant investment. Flexitime can be administered through a simple 'clocking in' system, and if you are operating a self service administration scheme for the rest of your benefits package, it would be easy to incorporate flexitime seamlessly.
Flexible working patterns look set to increase in popularity in the coming years. In order to save time and money now, these arrangements should be investigated by employers wherever possible.