Employers are being urged to think flexible working ahead of a new employment law coming into force which encourages these arrangements.

From June 30 2014, all employees will have the legal right to request flexible working and for their request to be given due consideration. An employer conference on flexible working held this week (10 June) heard from businesses who had increased staff motivation, engagement and retention as a result of flexible working policies.

Ministers called on employers to find out more about changes to flexible working and the business benefits it can bring. Over 40 per cent of businesses with staff benefiting from flexible working have experienced positive effects on recruitment, productivity and labour turnover. They also noted a reduction in absenteeism among their staff.

Business Minister Jenny Willott said:

“Nowadays, employees want to be able to balance their work and home commitments without losing out. Being able to work flexibly will help achieve this, and from June 30 everyone will have the right to request a way of working that could help them achieve this balance.

“Businesses who use flexible working see benefits to them as well as to their employees. As well as increasing staff productivity and reducing non-attendance, it helps firms to keep experienced staff and makes then more attractive to new recruits.”

Flexible working covers everything from job sharing and working from home, to flexitime and part-time working. It is expected to become more commonplace following the introduction of the changes. Research shows that 74% of small business owners that employ staff have at least one employee working flexibly already. Of these, just over six in 10 have staff working part-time, which is by far the most common form of flexible working.

Teamwork (PD)One company already reaping the benefits of flexible working is Healix, the international healthcare and risk management company and leading provider of corporate healthcare trusts. Healix has recently become the latest ambassador for the Business is GREAT Britain campaign – inspiring small businesses to grow, nurture, lead and export – by sharing their flexible working success story.

Set up by two British doctors in 1992, Healix started a medical repatriation business with a team of just three. Today, Healix employs more than 200 staff and is rapidly expanding overseas with offices in New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Greece, Singapore, Kenya and the USA. Besides being Europe’s largest provider of medical evacuation services to the travel industry, Healix also provides employers with international medical, security and travel assistance services and international occupational health services for their global workforces.

Paul Beven, co-founder of Healix said:

“Flexible working means we have a very committed workforce. We benefit from low staff turnover, people feel refreshed and able to avoid unnecessary stress. Flexible working practices have enabled us to retain employees who would otherwise not have been able to carry on with their careers.

“We have always been keen to accommodate requests for flexible working arrangements rather than risk losing valuable employees, or seeing employees spend unnecessary time or expense on travel, childcare or miss out on key activities in their life.”

More than one third – 37% – of Healix’s workforce currently have the ability to work from home. Healix has agreed flexible working patterns with employees to help them balance work with a range of other commitments and responsibilities, such as childcare, job sharing, further education, carer commitments or volunteering.

To find out more about how flexible working could benefit your business, visit www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/flexibleworking.

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