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New research suggests that the traditional 9 to 5 working hours are now only the norm for the minority of workers.

A newly published YouGov survey has found that only 6% of those answering were working the traditional working day of 9am to 5pm.  Nearly 50% were working in flexible arrangements such as flexi-time or job sharing.  The survey was commissioned by McDonald’s and questioned over 4,000 respondents.

Many business owners may well be reading this and laughing at the possibility of a working day of only 8 hours, but the findings are important for your business and who you attract to work for you.  It is a growing trend and we have written previously on how flexible working hours are a good way of attracting staff to your business, particularly if you are not able to pay higher salaries.

Every employee has the legal right to request flexible working after 26 continuous weeks employment, and the employer must have a sound business reason for refusing any such request, which is where the grey area creeps in as no two businesses will be exactly the same.  The request must be in writing and dated, including any previous requests.  The employer has three months to reply in writing one way or the other to the request, and the employee can only make one request in a twelve month period.

If in doubt, it it worth getting HR and legal advice on exactly what constitutes a ‘sound business reason’ as you may need to defend yourself should the employee disagree with your decision and take further action.

Of those surveyed, the hours most people would like to work was between 8am and 4pm, accounting for 37%, with 21% then choosing the next most popular hours of 7am until 3pm.  They found that flexibility was considered important across all ages and life stages, so students and parents alike.

It may be easy to dismiss this as an inconvenience or not suitable to your business, but if other businesses around you – especially competitors – are offering it then you may find it difficult to attract the staff you want for your business.