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Pros and Cons of Working Flexible Hours

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 10 Jul 2015 | comments*Discuss
Flexible Hours Working Parents Employers

For many parents, working flexible hours could be a dream come true. Working mums in particular often dream of finding a job where they can drop their kids off at school and pick them up, or where they can work term-time and have all summer holidays off to spend with their kids.

But for many people, this is not a reality. Many employers are reluctant to allow their employees to fit their working hours around their offspring, saying that it would have a detrimental effect on their business.

Who’s right, of course, depends on each particular situation. In large businesses, working flexible hours is probably easier, as someone will be on hand to cover, should the need be. Many owners of smaller businesses, however, say that allowing their employees too much flexibility could harm their firm's interests, and put undue pressure on other employees.

“Family-Friendly” Legislation

In 2003, legislation was passed that allowed parents with children under age six to request flexible working hours from their employers. Their employers were not obliged to grant their wishes, but they had to “seriously consider” them. The legislation said they could reject their offer only if there were “serious” business reasons to do so.

New legislation in 2009 meant that parents with children up to age 16 could ask for flexible working conditions, as long as they had worked for the firm six months or more. It defined flexible working hours as encompassing a wide variety of working options, including:

  • Working from home
  • Working part-time
  • Working more hours over more fewer days
  • Job-sharing
  • Working term-time only
The legislation did not state that employers had to agree to their employee’s requests, saying it would depend on whether the arrangement would negatively impact on the business or not. It is unclear whether David Cameron’s government will seek to overturn this or not.

Pros of Flexible Hours

If you are considering working more flexibly, it's a good idea to have a long, hard think about what it could mean for you. Working flexible hours can offer a lot of freedom, but some people find that they suffer in other ways (listed below).

Here are some of the pros of working flexible hours:

  • You can spend more time with your family and/or meet other personal obligations
  • You can avoid travelling to work at the height of the commute rush hour, therefore saving both time and stress
  • You may be able to save on childcare costs, depending on the hours you work
  • You may feel less burnt-out at your job and your productivity could increase
  • You may take less days off as you will make a schedule that will allow you to comfortably fit in obligations that are outside work

Cons of Flexible Hours

In businesses with a small staff, working flexible hours can put unfair demands on those who work full-time. Administrative costs to monitor flexible hour schemes can also be prohibitive. But what are the cons for YOU?

  • Your salary will be lower as you work fewer hours
  • You may feel that you “miss out” on what is going on at work, especially if you work term time, for example, and take weeks off at a time
  • You will feel an increased need to be more disciplined and organised
  • You might feel that there is a potential for you to be passed over when it comes to promotion
  • It might not be all it's cracked up to be, and if you work from home a lot, for example, you may feel an increasing sense of isolation
Working flexible hours has its pros and cons, and for many working mums, it's an ideal way to attain that healthy work/life balance. If you are contemplating this option, get some professional advice first and see if it really is right for you.

It's also a good idea to learn whether other people in your office have asked for – and received – the right to work flexibly, as this could impact your future as well. Before requesting a flexible schedule, make sure you have evaluated all the pros and cons first!

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I currently work for an airline employed as cabin crew. I have worked part time 50% fixed days roster for 4 years. I have a contract stating my permanent change of work pattern and days that I work. The contract makes no mention of having to change for promotion. I have recently been successful at promotion but the company will not allow me to keep my fixed working pattern. They say I must work their part time fully flexible roster or pass up the promotion. Is this allowed. I am gutted.
Rosythyme - 10-Jul-15 @ 9:45 PM
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