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Nine-day fortnight

Post-pandemic, hybrid working has spiked in popularity, with more and more employees valuing a work-life balance that suits them. What’s more, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) bill has recently reached Royal Ascent, providing employees with the right to greater flexibility over where, when and how they work (you can find out more about this new bill here. Many forms of flexible working arrangements have been popular, from job-sharing to flexi-time and core hours, to the highly debated four-day week.

One that has been slowly rising in popularity, however, has been the nine-day fortnight – where employees have one “free day” every other week. This is a form of compressed hours, where the employee will work full-time hours over fewer days. Essentially, they must ‘accrue’ enough hours over 9 days, in order to have the 10th day off. There are obvious benefits to this type of flexible working for both employees and employers – the most apparent being that employers aren’t ‘losing’ any hours like they may with four-day weeks, considering the number of hours an employee works will not change but also reported improved productivity levels and job satisfaction. But what do employers need to consider before implementing a nine-day fortnight?

Holiday Allowance & Annual Leave

Something which should be considered is annual leave. Whilst it will not affect the number of days in an employees’ holiday allowance as the 10th day is taken in lieu and not as annual leave, the same amount of hours are compressed into 9 days, meaning the average working day will increase in length. For this reason, you should make sure your holiday calculations are still correct.
An example of this would be:

In an average 37.5-hour working week, employees are required to work 75 hours every 10 days. However, in a nine-day working week, these 75 hours will be compressed, meaning the average working day will be 8.33 hours instead of 7.5 hours.

Sickness & Absences

Something which will need to be taken into consideration is how to monitor staff absences and how any sickness absence would impact the employees right to have the 10th day off. Some companies choose to allow one sick day per 10-day cycle without breaking the cycle whilst others would not allow the 10th day to be taken should an absence occur. Any sicknesses which occur on their non-working day will not count towards sickness absences as even though it is a weekday, they would not normally have been working. Again this may cause difficulty if an employee wishes to be classed as sick as opposed to using their lieu day.

Rota patterns

It will need to be decided how employees are to take their free day in a way which has the least impact on the business. There are various ways in which this could be organised – for example, the business could shut down every other Friday, or the company could be split into two separate groups which each have alternating Fridays off. Whilst most prefer to have their free day next to their weekend, it may be that some employees have specific requests or may wish to vary their free day each fortnight. It’s important to put some parameters in place and consult with employees in order to strike a balance between the business needs and the employees’ needs.

How do I make this work for my business?

As with all flexible working arrangements, responsibility for making them work must be shared by employees and managers. Together you need to assess opportunities and challenges in any proposed or existing arrangement openly and honestly. For a change like this, it’s important to implement a trial period in order to gauge the success of the change, find any potential issues, and decide whether anything should be changed before rolling it out completely. What may be right for one business, may not be right for another.

Our team of HR specialists can help you review all options in respect of flexible working, flexi–time and time off in lieu. We offer businesses a consultation to enable us to:

  • understand the individual needs of your business;
  • consider what provisions you have in place already and how effective they are;
  • advise on where you can maximise on the opportunities flexible arrangements can offer you and your team;
  • provide supporting documents and policies along with a practical and comprehensive implementation plan.

This review is free for our Standard and Premium Watertight HR & Legal Clients– just speak to your dedicated advisor who will be happy to help.

If you are not a member of our Watertight HR & Legal Plan, then contact us for a chat and consultation quote at 0333 888 1360 or email [email protected]

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