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Brown should be bolder on flexible working


The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has called on the government to be bolder with its proposals for flexible working and extend the right to all workers, not just parents of children of under 12.

The reports in the weekend newspapers suggest that Imelda Walsh’s review into flexible working will recommend extending the right to parents of children aged up to 12, and that the Prime Minister will embrace the recommendations.

Mike Emmott, CIPD employee relations adviser, commentedd:
“We wholly support moves to extend the ‘right to request’ to more parents. But the government should be bolder still and extend the right to all workers. The danger with ever larger groups of people entitled to request flexible working, and a smaller number not entitled to do so, is that divisions will grow up 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. Our research shows that it would also deliver improved employee engagement, and therefore contribute to boosting productivity and performance in the workplace.

“The government can rightly claim credit for the light-touch ‘right to request’ legislation that has encouraged employers to consider employee requests without the need to wield the big stick of compulsion. However, it is a shame that a desire to appease the most vocal in the business lobby appears likely to limit the new extension to flexible working rights to parents of slightly older children than at present. John Hutton gave a clear public signal in February that he wanted Imelda Walsh’s review to only recommend a limited extension, so it is unsurprising that this now seems to be what will come out of the review.”


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