Small firms unaware of flexible working rules

A quarter of employers and the more than six in ten employees are unaware of flexible working regulations, a year after they were introduced, a new report has revealed.

The study, conducted by Microsoft, found that a worrying 26 per cent of business owners did not know their staff had the right to request variable working hours if they were parents of young or disabled children.

A further 61 per cent of employees said that they were also unaware of the regulations, which were introduced in April last year.

Despite the widespread ignorance of flexible working, employees were supportive of the rules, with over half saying that they would like to apply for variable hours now they knew their rights.

However, small businesses questioned had reservations over the scheme, with 22 percent worried about losing control over staff and 10 per cent voicing security concerns.

Of the firms polled, a quarter already had flexible working policies in place, with five per cent amending their working conditions over the past year.

Flexible working laws are seen by the government as an important method of improving the work-life balance of UK employees, who work the longest hours in Europe and suffer from soaring stress levels.

Advances in remote technology has enabled many employees to work effectively from home, although some employers have voiced concerns over friction between staff eligible to work flexibly and those who aren’t.

Steve Harvey, of Microsoft, said that small businesses need to overcome their fears around flexibility.

“Modern technology enables employees to remain in contact 24 hours a day with instant access to all business critical data, allowing for seamless operation with colleagues wherever they are, with the security to ensure that the data is fully protected,” he said.

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