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Flexible working or flexitime

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Flexible working – flexitime

Whether there are formal arrangements for flexitime schemes, ad hoc arrangements for flexible working hours or short-term arrangements, it is important that agreements are properly negotiated between the management and the union(s)

Guidelines for successful flexible working practice include:

  • an initial trial with any problems being discussed
  • agreement on exceptions to the coverage of flexible working hours
  • agreement on whether participation is voluntary or compulsory, the degree of flexibility, and the method of time recording (particularly for flexitime schemes)
  • individuals having the choice of their own start and finish time within a 'bandwidth'
  • ensuring flexitime is carefully organised and arrangements made for 'flexi-leave', etc
  • a limit on the number of credit/debit hours in a settlement period. A good guide would be 15 hours a month or five hours a week
  • agreed rules governing overtime from the outset, although these should not be used to restrict individual choice of the start and finish times
  • regular monitoring and review to address any difficulties in the operation of the arrangements and prevent staff suffering detriment as a result of working flexibly
  • its availability to all staff, including any casual and/or part-time workers.

Branch experience

At Centrica around three quarters of employees work flexibly, an option available at all levels – board members and directors through to all the junior grades.

Although the statutory provision for the right to request flexible working involves a permanent change to individuals' contracts, many organisations, including BAE Systems, allow a specific provision for defined periods of flexible working or trial periods.

Historic Scotland offers alternative working hours and patterns to all staff, not just those with the statutory entitlement, in recognition of the benefits the organisation gains.

A formal flexitime scheme operates at the Countryside Council for Wales. This also includes further flexible options, such as:

• earlier or later start and finish times than outlined within the scheme

• removing core hours and implementing self-rostering by team negotiation

• allowing staff to carry forward flexi leave beyond 12 weeks so they can accumulate flexi leave for a particular purpose.