PWC tells staff 'start when you like, leave when you like' as part of new flexible working plan

A BIG city accountancy firm has told its 22,000-strong workforce they can choose what time they would like to start and finish work.

PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC) has said staff can work from home a few days a week if they like and clock off early on Fridays through summer.

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The firm said it recognised that lifestyles had changed over the past year, with parents juggling childcare and other responsibilities, and that Covid had sped up plans for more flexible working.

The business said it wants to offer staff greater flexibility for returning to work after the pandemic, and expects a 40% to 60% home to office balance.

It said the policy will be based on "trust" in order to meet the needs of the teams, clients and the firm.

The company hopes that it will be among those leading the way to a new way of working, outside of the outdated 9 to 5, Monday to Friday work pattern.

How to ask for flexible working

EMPLOYEES have the right to ask for flexible working, according to Acas.

By law, you can make a request if:

  • You've worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks
  • You're legally classed as an employee
  • You've not made any other flexible working request in the last 12 months.

A flexible working request must be in writing.

Your request letter or email should say you’re making a "statutory flexible working request" and must include:

  • the date you’re sending it
  • the change you’d like to make
  • when you’d like the change to start
  • how any effects the change could have on your work or the business might be dealt with
  • the date of any previous flexible working requests, if you’ve made any
  • if your request relates to something covered by the Equality Act 2010, for example to make a ‘reasonable adjustment’ for a disability you have.

Your employer should then set up a meeting to talk about your request before making a decision.

They must then make a decision within a maximum of three months of you making your request. You should ask for it in writing.

"We’ve long promoted flexible working, and we hope today’s announcements make it much more the norm rather than the exception," said PwC chairmand and senior partner.

"We want our people to feel trusted and empowered."

He added that without careful planning, employees will lose the "best bits" of these new ways of working when the economy opens up again.

A recent report found that nearly half of Brits could quit their jobs after lockdown if employers don't offer flexible working.

Ministers are currently reviewing extending existing working rights by introducing the right to request ad hoc flexible working, meaning Brits can change their hours to when it suits them.

It would give thousands of employees the freedom to make appointments during the working day and have more control over their diaries.

Current rules mean employees can request changes in working patterns and employers must deal with these in a "reasonable manner" within three months.

High street building society Nationwide has already told staff they can choose to work from home if they like, while BP said employees can work two days a week from home.

Twitter told its staff last year they can work from home "forever" if they wish and many other companies are currently reviewing their policies.

PwC said further details of its plan will be shared will employees over the coming weeks and it hopes they will be phased in as lockdown restrictions ease.

Work from home restrictions were lifted on Monday (March 29) but many offices are not planning on reopening fully until June.

Laura Hinton, chief people officer at PwC, added: "While not everyone is able to work flexibly all of the time, we want to make it as easy as possible when they do. 

"From discussions with our people and clients, we believe these changes will make a real difference, helping support greater work life balance and giving our people more confidence to work flexibly."

Last month, the Prime Minister dismissed permanent home working when unveiling his roadmap out of lockdown.

And speaking at a virtual rail industry conference, Boris Johnson said he didn't think virtual meetings would be here to stay.

He said: "I don't believe it. Not for a moment. In a few short months, if all goes to plan, we in the UK are going to be reopening our economy."

 

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