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Flexible working legislation will make things more complicated, say employers

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Next month’s legislation affecting flexible working practice is likely to prove a headache for over half of employers, who expect to have to make changes to accomodate the new ruling, according to recent research.

The survey of 28 major organisations conducted by legal firm Linklaters and charity Parents at Work earlier in the year, found that although most employers questioned already had flexible working policies in place which would allow for the type of requests covered by the incoming legislation, almost 54% said they would need to amend their current procedures to take account of the new legal requirements.

The new legislation, which comes into effect on 6 April this year, will mean that parents of children aged under six or of disabled children aged under 18 will have a statutory right to request that their employers consider an application to work flexibly.

With 82% of respondents to this survey already having a formal flexible working policy in place, 71% expected to have to put in place a formal appeals procedure to deal with cases where requests to work flexibly had been refused.

Commenting on the new laws, Raymond Jeffers, head of employment at Linklaters, said:

“On the positive side, the new legislation is likely to raise awareness of good flexible working models. On the negative side, the new law is likely to require a more bureaucratic process than most employers’ current, less formal practices. Also, as the legislation is aimed at one small group – of parents that fit the criteria – that could possibly lead to division in the workplace.”

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