Another 17% do not understand the updates to legislation and are not prepared for the changes.

Almost half (45%) of small companies are unaware of changes to flexible working legislation that come into force on Monday morning. That's according to a new study by online freelance marketplace, PeoplePerHour. Another 17% felt they did not fully understand the changes and what it would mean for them as an employer. Just 12% of those surveyed felt they had a full understanding of the legislation and their responsibilities as employers.

The study comes ahead of reforms to the flexible working regulations that come into force on the 30th June.

The key points are:

• The Government is extending the right to request flexible working to all employees and removing the current statutory procedure for considering requests.

• Instead employers will have a duty to consider all requests in a reasonable manner; however, employers will continue to have the flexibility to refuse requests on business grounds.

• Employees need to have been with their employer for 26 weeks before applying for flexibility in working hours.

• Only one application can be made in any 12 month period.

• Employees have the right to appeal against the outcome.

Work and Business (PD)The survey of 2000 small business owners in the UK also revealed that 18% of SMEs already have some members of staff working with a degree of flexibility, whether that be working from home, working part-time or job sharing. Another 43% said they had worked with freelancers on a remote basis.

A third (33%) of those surveyed said they would be happy to allow some members of staff to work from home and would not have a problem with trust, while a further 22% said they would have concerns about the effect that flexible working would have on their staff productivity. 32% worried about team morale if too many members of staff worked irregular hours or away from the office.

When employers were asked how much time they would consider allowing their staff to work from home the majority ( 62%) felt comfortable with one to two days a week and 25% said they would take permanent home based working into consideration to keep up with the new trend in remote working and stay competitive in terms of flexibility offered to staff.

Interestingly, 52% felt they may miss out on top talent if they didn't offer flexible working and worried they may even lose current staff to competitors if they did not match the flexibility and freedom offered by other employers.

While not all roles are suited to flexible working the small businesses questioned felt it worked best with employees in sales, marketing and bookkeeping roles.

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, CEO & founder of PeoplePerHour comments:

"This new legislation taking effect at the end of June 2014 will enable businesses to grow. By embracing the terms of the new flexible working regulations and adapting to the more modern trend of remote working, nine-to-five jobs will be a thing of the past."

"This change in legislation will provide many benefits to both the employer and employees. Business owners will be able to demonstrate trust in their staff and develop a loyal workforce, they will also be able to attract more top talent if they build a reputation for allowing staff freedom and flexibility."

"The advantages to employees are numerous, not only are they given an opportunity to prove themselves reliable and driven, but they will also gain the flexibility many have been longing for."

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