Creativebias Helpsheet: Equal Opportunities and Flexible Working Practices
Equal Opportunities and Flexible Working Practices
A Brief Guide for Creative Industries Entrepreneurs
What do we mean by "flexible working practices"?
Flexible working practices relate to issues such as the hours that people work or the place that they work. It is about being responsive to your own needs, and to the needs of your customers and staff. As a new business in the creative industries you are likely to be working flexibly already, especially if you are a sole trader. The Business Link booklet, "Benefits of Flexible Working" outlines some important points that may help you now and in the future. The website is on www.businesslink.gov.uk
What are the benefits of adopting flexible working practices?
By adopting flexible working practices you can generate benefits for your business. Flexibility can create a more satisfying balance between work and home life, and so staff morale may increase while absenteeism may decrease. One common practice is flexi-time: essentially this is allowing employees to choose their own hours of work, within certain parameters, as long as the agreed number of hours are completed within a set period. Alternatively, you could consider allowing staff to work from home, but you must ensure that communcation, confidentiality and data protection policies are in place.
There are also legal requirements. Employees with young or disabled children have the right to request flexible working. There are procedures that must be followed when such a request is made, and a refusal must be based on acceptable business grounds.
The aforementioned Business Link booklet includes a list of web addresses and other sources of further information, and also a case study showing how flexible work practices can benefit businesses.
What do we mean by "equal opportunities"?
The subject of equal opportunities (often referred to as equality and diversity) is concerned with the prevention of unlawful discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, age, disability, sexual orientation, and religion or belief.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (www.equalityhumanrights.com) booklet, "Equal Opportunities is Your Business Too" gives an overview of the issues involved, and provides contact details for sources of more in-depth advice. There is no limit to the amount of money that can be awarded to an employee if you are found to have discriminated against them. However, good Equal Opportunities policies can improve staff morale and may open up new markets for you products by making your services more accessible. You will be expected to create your own Equal Opportunities policy and Equal Opportunities Action Plan, appropriate to your business activities. You can find help and guidance with those under this section of the site.
For Further Info:
- Business Link booklet, "Benefits of flexible working"
- Equal Opportunities Commission booklet, "Equal Opportunities is your business too"