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The benefits of term-time contracts

October 4, 2017 11:12am All News Stories  Employment Law News  work life balance

Scottish based company, Pursuit Marketing, is set to become one of the first private sector organisations to offer term-time contracts.

Lorraine Gray, the company’s Operations Director, is reported to have said ‘Last year we introduced a four-day week for our staff, without cutting pay, and productivity soared…so this is a natural progression of that policy’.

She continued ‘Parents often feel torn between work and spending time with their children, especially during their early years, and this solution resolves that dilemma, allowing them to be at their desks during term time and at home with their children during the various school holidays’.

General premise of term-time contracts

Common in the education sphere, term-time contracts can be useful for working parents whose children have school holidays for an average of 13 weeks a year. The general idea is that these contracts allow employees to cut down on the hours they work or allow them to take time off during school holidays.

School holiday conundrum

We are getting close to another half-term school holiday and soon after it’s the Christmas break. With extremely high childcare fees and many grandparents still working full-time, it is not easy to find someone to look after the little ones.

Sometimes this means that one of the parents has a hard decision to make: leave their job or pay for childcare. When they balance the pros and cons, work can often be the one that loses out.

Realistically, the only way they can stay in employment is if their employer accepts some form of flexible working. The modern reality of juggling professional and personal commitments has put pressure on employers to think about different ways to tackle the challenge posed by school holidays.

Benefits for employers

Term-time working offers lots of pluses for employees, but what about employers?

Not only can it help you retain key staff, it can help you attract a wider pool of candidates.

It can also reduce absenteeism. When employees cannot balance their work and home commitments, this can lead to them taking time off work and leaving you in the lurch at the last minute and scrambling to find cover.

Depending on the nature of the business, there may be some seasonable variations to business demands which means that this arrangement could work well.

Comment

The truth is that not all organisations and roles will lend themselves to term-time working; therefore it is important to find a flexible working arrangement which suits your business interests.

Once you receive a statutory request for flexible working, you should discuss the change with the employee to see whether there are issues in accommodating the request, if there are other working patterns which could be explored and the pros, cons and costs of the change for the business.

If you are not sure about how their proposed flexible working arrangement will work out in practice, you can let them try it for a few months. You may discover it works well, or that it means you need to hire extra staff to cover their work or it is putting pressure on others to take annual leave outside school holidays times. In this case, you may think about any other options, for example staggered hours, compressed hours or home working.

To discuss different flexible working arrangements which align well to your business, speak to your Employment Law Adviser who can guide you.

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