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TUC urges government not to give up on flexible working

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Today (Wednesday) the TUC will tell the government to resist employer lobbying, ignore the ‘red tape’ protestations and press ahead with changes that would enable working parents to achieve a better balance between work and home.

The TUC will give evidence at 4pm today (Wednesday) to the Employment Sub Committee of the Commons’ Education and Employment Select Committee on the government’s Work and parents green paper. The TUC will be stressing the positive business benefits that spring from flexible working. It will tell the Committee that far from being another ‘burden’ on businesses, companies with the sense to allow staff to reduce or alter their working days benefit from a more productive and more content workforce.

The TUC will remind MPs that a new legal right to work reduced hours has overwhelming public support – more than half the women returning from maternity leave say achieving flexibility in their working arrangements is amongst their top priorities. And fathers are also keen to reduce their hours, understandable says the TUC, when government statistics show that 14% of male employees with children are working more than 60 hours a week.

TUC General Secretary John Monks said: “Some employers have been all to quick to jump on the red tape bandwagon, saying that their business will become impossible to manage if the law changes to allow parents to alter their working hours. This is nonsense. Good employers have been allowing their staff to work flexibly for years, and their companies haven’t suffered.

“The government’s decision last week to end the parental leave cut-off it introduced in 1999 shows that it is serious about helping working parents. Now in order to convince voters of its family-friendly credentials, the government just needs to go one step further, and introduce a new legal right enabling parents to change their working hours – ushering in a greater flexibility to UK workplaces.”

The TUC wants to see the government press ahead with measures to:


  • allow mothers who return to work before the end of their maternity leave to work reduced hours for the remainder of the period for which they could have been off work.
  • introduce a legal framework to encourage employers and parents to agree requests for reduced hours or more flexible working. Workers should have their requests accepted unless the employer can demonstrate a good reason why not. Any refusal to grant changes in hours should be given in writing.
  • ensure small businesses are not exempted from any new flexible working proposals.

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