By Daniel Hunter

Flexible working “shouldn’t be feared” by employers and ought to be seen as beneficial to their organisation, according to NatWest Mentor.

The message comes on the back of a survey showing that more than 80% of small businesses now support the concept of flexible working.

Legally, employees can request flexible working if they work for than 26 hours a week. Failure to deal requests in a responsible manner could lead to legal action.

Nick Soret, Head of Employment Law Consultancy Support at NatWest Mentor, said: “But that doesn’t mean it should be feared as a concept and instead should be viewed more as an employee benefit that can be just as beneficial to the company. It’s therefore great to see that more small businesses are recognising flexible working as a good thing in the modern workplace.”

Allowing employees to have input on the hours they work has become a popular way of promoting employee wellbeing and is also increasingly being seen as important to job hunters.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are more likely to benefit from the trend, as employees with flexible hours take less days off sick, and are able to work from home when weather or transport problems make commuting impossible. But flexible working needn’t just mean “working from home.”

Nick Soret said: “Flexible working can include letting employees attend events and networking during their required hours. This approach not only provides more satisfaction for employees but can also increase business opportunities for your company.”