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Government pushes flexible working extension

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The government has signalled that it aims to push for a better work-life balance for more parents, as heard in the Queen’s speech on Tuesday.

It is believed that the proposals will extend the right to request flexible working to those with children in their early teens.

Those with children under six-years-old or with disabled children under 18-years-old, as well as carers of adults, already have the right to request flexible working hours.

In the Queen’s speech, the government promised to “bring forward proposals to help people achieve a better balance between work and family life”.

In response to these proposals, Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said that the government’s intention to consult on extending the right to request flexible working is welcomed.

“The CIPD has argued for this right to be extended to all workers. The light-touch nature of the existing right to request has had a positive impact on work-life balance without causing undue difficulties for employers.”

However, Emmott added that the danger with larger groups of people entitled to request flexible working, and a smaller number not entitled to do so, is that divisions will grow in the workplace.

“Many enlightened employers already allow employees to work flexibly regardless of their family status. An extension of the right to request to all workers would level the playing field, without compelling employers to offer flexible working where this is incompatible with business needs.”

Liberal Democrat small business spokesperson, Lorely Burt MP, said that the government should stop talking about the benefits of flexible working and start acting. “All employees should have the right to request flexible hours, not just the 25 per cent who already have it as parents of young children, or carers of adults.”

Meanwhile, Helen Reynolds, acting chief executive officer of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation commented that these plans need to be managed carefully.

“In the modern labour market, more and more people are seeking out more flexible forms of work. As more of the permanent workforce request flexible forms of working, it will be necessary to maintain other forms of flexible working, such as temping, to support employers in granting these requests.

“It is therefore vital that the Prime Minister preserves a competitive temporary work market in order to underpin these other forms of flexible working.”

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