CIPP future of payroll research report 2020


It has been a long time since employers and employees alike observed the strict 9-5 Monday – Friday working pattern that Dolly Parton famously sang about, and, particularly over the past couple of decades, flexible working has emerged to the point that it has almost become ‘the norm’. Many employers now offer employees the opportunity to balance their work life with their home and family life by allowing them to work different shifts, such as compressed hours or part-time hours, with some businesses offering the opportunity to work remotely, and from home, in more recent years. Whilst this is a welcome development and the increased flexibility that employers offer is certainly to be celebrated, it does have its implications for payroll departments who have to grapple with calculations for elements such as pay and holiday entitlement relating to working arrangements that are anything but straight forward. In recognition of the fact that working arrangements have become so flexible in offices within contemporary society, the survey incorporated a number of questions on exactly that topic, and also on the future of working practices more generally. When asked if businesses have been receiving increased flexible working requests, unsurprisingly over a third 67% confirmed that yes, they had, whilst 33% stated that they hadn’t seen more flexible working requests from members of staff. Employees have the legal right to submit a flexible working request, where they have been working for their employer for a minimum period of 26 weeks, are legally classed as an employee and have not submitted a previous flexible working request in the preceding 12 months. Employers do have the right to refuse flexible working requests but only in limited circumstances, which are relating to: planned structural changes, the burden of additional costs, quality or standards suffering, the inability to recruit additional staff, performance suffering, the inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff, struggling to meet customer demand and a lack of work during the periods the employee requests to work. To reflect the fact that there are a variety of flexible working patterns that an employee can adopt, the Future of Payroll survey also asked which flexible working arrangements businesses offer to staff. It is important to point out that the answer options were not interdependent of one another, but the greatest response rate was for the ability to work from home, with 82% confirming that this was a style of working that their businesses allowed. This is particularly prevalent at present, due to the outbreak of coronavirus, which has forced many individuals, who would never have worked remotely, to do just that. Typically employers have maintained that the payroll department should work from within the office, due to their key and crucial role in the business, however, payroll teams up and down the country have demonstrated well, how they can work just as effectively, and maybe even more so, when working from home. Recent events will undoubtedly impact how requests for flexible working by payroll professionals are treated in the future. It is entirely possible that there will be a shift to permanent home working for many working within the profession. 74% of respondents confirmed that their employers offered flexible hours within set core hours, so having the freedom to work certain hours as long as they adhere to the operational requirements of the business by remaining in a selected timeframe. Have seen an increase in flexible working requests Not seen an increase in flexible working requests 67% 33%

Finally, 51% stated that their business offered the option of working compressed hours, so maintaining their contractually agreed number of hours but compacting them into fewer days, which ultimately results in working longer hours across less days.

The responses we received to this question clearly highlight that working arrangements are evolving rapidly. In addition to this, there has been an emergence of different ways of working, with the advancement of the gig economy, and people working on zero-hours contracts. It seems that, as time progresses, and individuals are encouraged to balance their home and work life, the standardised 9-5 role will become a thing of the past.



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