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Flexible working laws changed

A new law has come into effect which will allow all employees the right to request flexible working.

Under new legislation, which was introduced as of July 2014, any employee who has been working for a company for 26 weeks or more can ask for a range of flexible options, including compressed hours, four-day weeks, working from home and job shares. This right had previously been restricted to those with children or caring responsibilities.

The legal change will mean that 20 million people will now have flexible working rights, more than double the previous figure. Of those who already offer it, many businesses say working from home or changing working hours increases staff motivation and productivity while also reducing absence.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills hopes it will modernise workplaces and bring them into line with demands for work-life balance. However, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) believes that formal change was not required; the organisation says that the move will create more administrative work whereas many smaller companies were already offering flexible working through a consensual approach.

There have also been concerns raised by groups such as Working Families around whether or not firms will approve the process. Some believe that there will be a reluctance to allow staff to work from home, with fears that it could create workplace tensions or that some employees could abuse the trust placed in them.

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