Flexible Working

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Monday, Jul 08, 2024

As the world of work evolves and adapts to new challenges, one of the most common and popular innovations is flexible working. This work model allows workers to balance their personal and professional responsibilities without it affecting their productivity.

The global pandemic showed how successful non-traditional working methods can be. So now, many more employers are willing to accept them.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working is any form of work that is outside the conventional 8-hour, 5-day work week. Flexible work arrangements allow employers and their staff to decide their work hours according to the business's needs. Work flexibility can be based on working conditions, schedules, locations, or work hours.

Types of flexible work arrangements

Part-time hours

Part-time employees can work less than the traditional 40-hour work week. Staff won't have fixed start or end times as long as they complete their tasks within the agreed upon time frame. This flexible work environment is ideal for employees with disabilities, health problems, or other circumstances like those caring for a relative.

How you split these work hours may depend on your business needs, the employee's workload, or peak hours.

Flex time

A flex time agreement is a flexible working arrangement which allows employees to choose when they start or end their shift – based on set time frames. They can choose work hours, and schedules may vary weekly. You and the employee may also set decide their standard hours of work for a specific period.

This type of flexible working arrangement is typically arranged in advance, so other employees know their routine for collaboration purposes. For example, the employee must work 7.5 hours or more each day, but they can split this time how they want.

Compressed work week

In a compressed work week, your employees can make their schedules and reduce the number of days they work. So, employees can work more than eight hours a day for three or four days a week.

This form of work flexibility can mean starting earlier than their usual work hours or closing later than their normal closing time. A compressed work week gives your employees flexible hours so they can have more days off to use as they please.

Remote work week

The remote work week is the most popular type of flexible work schedule. This is also known as telework or telecommuting. Remote work relies on technology to keep you and your employers connected.

With this style of flexible work your employees don't work from your business’s place of work. , Instead from their home or a location of their choosing. Employees may or may not keep traditional work hours.

Is flexible working a legal requirement?

If you run a federally regulated workplace, your employees have the right to request a flexible work arrangement under The Canada Labour Code. The Code provides employees with protections to achieve work-life balance. But, flexible work arrangements under The Canada Labour Code only apply to certain employees.

The employee must have been with your business for more than six months of continuous employment. They must also only be requesting changes to their work schedules, number of work hours or location of work.

Benefits of flexible working for employers

Many employers like yourself wonder about the effects flexible working may have on employees' productivity. You may also be curious how giving your employees the option of flexible work schedules benefits you.

There are many reasons why you may want to consider a flexible working model. Though not all employees may be eligible for flexible work arrangements, it's important to consider their needs. If you offer flexible work from day one, everyone in your business can benefit from it.

Flexible work gives your business a competitive edge against other companies competing for the same applicants. It can also help you make up for popular benefits your business may not offer, like unlimited paid time off.

  • Flexible work hours can help businesses keep up with round-the-clock demands that are especially common in roles such as customer service. This is also useful if you operate in multiple time zones.
  • Staff retention, morale and engagement are often higher when they have the option of flexible work. Employees with enough time to take care of personal affairs are less likely to change jobs.
  • Business activities can continue even during emergencies where physical locations would have to shut down (e.g. during extreme weather).
  • Flexible working helps reduce absenteeism as employees will have more time for themselves, eliminating the need to skip work.

Potential pitfalls of flexible working

Flexible work presents many benefits to both you as an employer, but it may also come with some challenges:

As an employer who's used to always seeing who you're working with, switching to a new way of working may be difficult. If you don't manage the process efficiently, it can lead to problems with communication, workload management, or teamwork.

There is also a risk of theft of sensitive company information, unauthorized data access and privacy violation. This can all happen if employees are not careful and lose their devices or fail to use secure networks.

Can flexible working be revoked in Canada?

As an employer, there are general principles you must follow if you're considering revoking your employee's flexible work arrangement. A flexible work arrangement is often permanent and can't be changed without your employee's consent unless in dire circumstances.

It's important to approach such situations with care because there can be legal consequences. Ensure that your employee's employment contract and policies on flexible working states you can revoke their flexible work schedule to protect your business.

You should check the regulations on revoking flexible work in your jurisdiction. It can be helpful to consult an employment relations expert to understand the legal process. Before moving forward and informing the employee, ensure you're fully aware of the implications. It's also important to consider the impact such changes can have on your employee's morale and job satisfaction. Let your employees know exactly why their flexible working arrangement is changing. Where possible, provide support to help make the transition easier and less stressful.

Flexible working with BrightHR

Managing employees with a flexible work schedule can be challenging. You can get into legal trouble if you don't act in line with the regulations governing your jurisdiction.

Employees may file claims against you if things go sour, and your business may be faced with costly fines.

That's why you need employment relations advice from qualified professionals. Our BrightAdvice line is available during standard business hours if you have any questions about managing flexible working arrangements.

Contact us on 18882204924 or book a demo today.

Lucy Cobb

Employment Law Specialist

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