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Employment law: Can I change my contracted hours?

September sees children head back to school. For parents whose children start school for the first time this can impact work as you begin to juggle school hours with work hours. But where do you stand with your employers on this?

In July 2023, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 was passed. This new law emphasises the importance of flexible working and rights of employees. The Act covers the rights of employees and other workers to request variations to terms and conditions of employment, including working hours, times, and locations.

Work life Balance

In 2021, data from a survey of more than 9,000 UK workers showed 65% of job seekers prioritised work-life balance over pay and benefits.

A good work life balance means something different to all of us. It’s not necessarily about splitting your time 50/50 between work and leisure but more about making sure you feel fulfilled and content in both areas of your life. The Mental Health Foundation lists this balance as including:

  • Meeting your deadlines at work while still having time for friends and hobbies.
  • Having enough time to sleep properly and eat well.
  • Not worrying about work when you’re at home.

Finding a balance shouldn’t just be down to you. Your manager and workplace also play a role and this is where the new Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 offers advice to employers on how to manage these requirements.

When children start school, stay at home parents sometimes use this opportunity to return to work. Some working parents may also start to consider changing their working hours to fit around school hours and childcare commitments. It is important you work with your new and current employers to ensure an agreement can be in place to meet the needs of both parties.

Check your contract

It’s important to understand your current contract and see if there is a flexibility clause included that allows you to change the hours for your role. Some roles will require a number of set hours to be worked in order to meet the roles’ responsibilities.

Put in your change of hours request

If you are looking to change your working arrangements, then it’s important to discuss what the new arrangements may be with your employer. This could include different options such as changing your hours, working from home, hybrid working, flexitime, job sharing, etc.
Once you’ve consulted and discussed options, the employee needs to put their request in writing, with the date, the change they are looking for, and the start date of the agreement.

Benefits of flexible working

There are a number of benefits to flexible work arrangements, these can include:

  • Greater work-life balance
  • Personal control over work schedule and environment
  • Greater productivity
  • Reduced commute
  • Lowered childcare costs
  • Reduced tardiness and absenteeism
  • Customised workspace
  • Improved health and wellbeing

Those with flexible working arrangements are shown to have a higher level of job satisfaction, resulting in better productivity when they are at work.

You can discover more about the benefits of flexible working, the types of arrangements commonly used and gives practical tips on implementing flexible working practices on the CIPD website.

What if my employer rejects my request?

Once you’ve submitted your request in writing, you should expect a written response in return. If your employer turns down your request, their letter should explain why, and tell you their appeals process, if they have one.

It’s best to use your employer’s appeal process if you can. If your employer doesn’t have an appeals process, you can raise a grievance or you can ask them to review their decision. Discover more on the Citizens Advice Bureau website.

If your employer doesn’t change their decision, you might be able to take your employer to an employment tribunal.

How our firm can help

Our employment law solicitors are here to help you deal with a wide range of employment issues and provide advice on everything from employment contracts to unfair dismissal. You can talk to us in complete confidence and gain reassurance from speaking to someone who understands your situation.

Contact our advisors today on 02477 287 119.

Posted in: News, Employment

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