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How a flexible workforce helps your business

Having a flexible workforce has benefits both for employees, and for your business. Here’s why flexible working arrangements make good business sense.

Why offer flexibility?

Offering your staff flexibility means allowing them to work in ways that fit in with their outside life.

Many employers have already adopted flexible working arrangements because they make good business sense.

These arrangements can help your business:

  • attract and retain skilled staff
  • increase productivity and engagement
  • raise staff morale and decrease absenteeism
  • improve employee loyalty
  • meet changes in the labour market more effectively.

For employees, the opportunity to work flexibly can help them strike a better balance between their paid work and other responsibilities.

Flexible work (external link) — Employment New Zealand

Any employee can ask for flexible working arrangements at any time.

Any employee can ask for flexible working arrangements at any time.

As an employer, you have a duty to consider their request.

Types of flexible work

Flexible work doesn’t just mean working part-time instead of full-time, or changing the shifts that you work.

Reduced or increased hours

The number of hours an employee works is outlined in their employment agreement. It’s up to you and your employee to agree on the number of hours they need to work to complete the job. They might ask to reduce their hours, and you might agree that they could still get their job done in less time. Because you don’t have to pay them for the hours they don’t work, their reduced hours might have a positive impact on the business.

Remember whatever amendments you make to their hours should be reflected in their employment agreement.

If an employee requests extra hours for extra pay, and you know there’s enough extra work for them to do it safely and don’t think it will negatively impact their performance, you could increase their hours.

Flexible work hours

You can give your employees a range of hours to work in, and they choose the hours they work. For example, you could say working hours are between 7am and 7pm, your employees would need to complete eight hours work between those hours.

Flexible weekly work pattern

This can include things like allowing your employees swap working a weekday for working a weekend day, or letting your employees work a compressed week. For example, an employee could choose to work four ten-hour days instead of five eight-hour days.

Flexible yearly work pattern

This arrangement provides options for employees to take limited or extended time off from work to manage various family and personal responsibilities. It can include working longer during term time and less during school holidays, or exchanging an agreed reduction in salary for extra periods of leave over a specified period.

Working remotely

You can allow employees to work from home or another location outside the workplace either full-time or part-time. Allowing remote working frees you up to hire staff outside your own geographical location, and can reduce office space and associated costs.

Flexible work (external link) — Workplace Policy Builder

You must respond to a request for a flexible working arrangement within a month of receiving it.

You must respond to a request for a flexible working arrangement within a month of receiving it.

What to do if an employee requests to work flexibly

When you get a request for a flexible working arrangement, you have to give it fair consideration. Think about how it could affect your business. It might take a few discussions with your worker to settle on an arrangement that suits both of you.

There are valid reasons to turn down a flexible working request, including:

  • it’s not practical to spread work around current staff
  • you can’t recruit more staff, eg to share a job
  • it could have a negative impact on quality or performance
  • it would cause too much additional cost
  • it would impact on your ability to meet customer demand
  • the request conflicts with the employee’s collective agreement.

You can always give it a go on a trial basis. If it’s not working, be honest, but be open to alternative solutions.

Considering a flexible work request (external link) — Employment New Zealand

Do you have more questions about flexible work arrangements?

Do you have more questions about flexible work arrangements?

Visit employment.govt.nz (external link) or call Employment New Zealand toll free on 0800 20 90 20.

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