Responding to Employee Requests for Greater Flexibility

Employees juggling the ever-increasing demands of professional life and personal responsibilities continue to seek more flexible work hours and “telework” options.  When responding to such employee requests, it is important for employers to remember that New Hampshire law specifically protects employees who request flexible work schedules.

As of September 1, 2016, New Hampshire law explicitly prohibits employers from retaliating against any employee who requests a flexible work schedule. Section 275:37-b Flexible Working Arrangement, provides:

No employer shall retaliate against any employee solely because the employee requests a flexible work schedule. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require any employer to accommodate a flexible work schedule. Nothing in this section shall be construed to create a cause of action for failure to provide a flexible work schedule at an employee’s request.

In addition to providing protection for employees by prohibiting retaliation for making a request, the law also includes safeguards for employers: (1) employers are not required to accommodate a flexible work schedule; and (2) no cause of action is created if an employer does not provide a flexible work schedule.

When responding to such a request, employers should remember that they may have additional responsibilities under other laws, like the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Family Medical Leave Act, to participate in a dialogue with employees who seek greater flexibility.  Moreover, New Hampshire’s Law Against Discrimination, RSA 354-A, also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who participate in certain protected activities.

Although the duties of some jobs may not allow flexible work schedules, employers should also keep in mind the benefits associated with offering flexibility, such as increased employee morale and engagement, reduced absenteeism and tardiness, and less turnover.

 

About the Author: Lindsay E. Nadeau https://orr-reno.com/our-people/lindsay-nadeau/

 

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