HR in 90 Seconds - October 2018

Posted in : Supplementary Articles NI on 22 October 2018
Legal Island
Legal Island
Issues covered:

In this month’s ‘HR in 90 seconds…’ we are looking at flexible working; age discrimination and work Christmas parties.

This month’s takeaway points include:

  • 7 Key steps in introducing flexible working; and
  • Criteria for refusing a flexible working request;

The Guide to Flexible Working – How to Implement a New Age of Working

Flexible working seems to be back on the agenda and is most definitely on the rise. Giving employees the flexibility to work where and when they like is no longer seen as just a benefit, but a norm. Personnel Today and Mitrefinch published a whitepaper and they are not talking about lunchtime yoga. They look at the fact that employees are asking for flexible working options to fit in with their personal lives. The paper focuses on how you can create a scheme that works for your business, keeping employees happy and engaged.

The paper offers 7 steps you can take as an organisation to introduce flexible working;

  1. Board buy-in
  2. Staff buy-in
  3. Inspire Managers
  4. Start with a pilot scheme
  5. Introduce guidelines
  6. Manage and track hours
  7. Review regularly

The guide also provides:

  • Key stats on the uptake of flexible working in the UK to date
  • The driving influences towards a flexible learning culture
  • What demographics, in particular, tend towards flexible working
  • The benefits of flexible working for businesses

Can an employer refuse a request for flexible working?

Chris Fullerton or Arthur Cox recently reminded us that it is ok to refuse a flexible working request so long as certain criteria are met.

If the individual meets the 3 criteria of  (a) Being an employee not simply a worker or agency worker; (b) Having a minimum of 26 weeks continuous service; and (c) Not having made a flexible working application in the previous 12 months; an employer can only turn down the request for specific statutory reasons, as contained in Article 112(G)(1)(b) of the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (“ER(NI)O”):

Although an employer does have the scope to refuse a request, it must ensure that it has assessed the individual’s specific circumstances and considered any possible discrimination that could occur upon refusal of a flexible working request.

Flexible working will save businesses money and boost productivity

A predicted boom in flexible working could contribute £148 billion to the UK economy by 2030, equating to 16 times the cost of the London 2012 Olympics, according to the first comprehensive socio-economic study of changing workplace practices. The analysis, commissioned by Regus and conducted by independent economists, studied 16 key countries to delve into the state of flexible working now and predictions for 2030.

The study found that flexible working doesn’t just benefit economies – it also helps individuals.

Other items of interest:

Tribunal Award for Man Denied Opportunity to Apply for Job Because of his Age

Last week an Antrim man who was told that, at 63, he was too old to apply for a post as a store person/van driver, has been awarded £3,000 by an Industrial Tribunal on grounds of age discrimination. It’s an important reminder that employers should not make generalised assumptions about people on grounds such as age. The tribunal in its finding noted that the claimant "was, in effect, given no opportunity on the grounds of his age".

Christmas Work Parties

It’s now less than 70 days until Christmas and for many that means we are starting to get ready for all those Christmas Work Parties. An article in People Management this week issues a word of warning on people over-indulging at the work do and getting into bother as the Court of Appeal found a firm responsible for a director’s actions at a hotel bar.

If you have seen any HR related articles you’d like to share with Legal-Island readers, drop a line to


This article is correct at 22/10/2018

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

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