Many UK firms are unaware of new flexible working rules, or unready for them

ostriches-head-in-sandThe UK is introducing new flexible working legislation at the end of this month, but two new surveys highlight a startling lack of awareness of the changes. According to research from Jobsite, more than half of UK firms and three quarters of employees are unaware of the changes and 25 percent of those firms who are aware of the new law hadn’t considered its implications. The second survey, from QualitySolicitors (sic), found an almost identical lack of awareness amongst SMEs, with just under half of the firms unaware of the new rules and just over a quarter admitting to being unprepared for them. The changes mean that from 30 June, all employees who have worked for their employer for at least six months will be entitled to request alternative working patterns.

One of the most telling statistics from the Jobsite survey is that while a third of employees claim that the offer of flexible working is the third most attractive characteristic of an employer and two-thirds would request it given the chance, 77 percent of them are ignorant of this year’s rule changes.

A similar mismatch in awareness and perceptions is evident in the responses from employers. Over half of the businesses surveyed (56 percent) believe that flexible working would lead to happier staff and hence a better business, regardless of their levels of awareness of the new legislation. Concerns remain about the impact of flexible working on a business with just under a third concerned about understaffing and a quarter that they would not be able to meet the needs of customers and clients.

The research undertaken by QualitySolicitors shows that many small and medium sized businesses are unaware and unprepared for changes to employment rules governing flexible working which come into force on June 30. In a survey of SME leaders across the UK in April this year, QualitySolicitors found that three quarters of respondents didn’t know about the new rules which will give many more employees the right to request flexible working, or had taken no steps to prepare for them.