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Parents get rights to apply for flexible working


The government is accepting recommendations from the Work and Parents Taskforce to standardise the procedure for parents who want to arrange flexible working patterns with their employers.

Today's announcement puts forward a formal system by which the employee makes a written request for flexible working which the employer will assess for business practicality. If the request isn't accepted, the employer must explain why in writing, and the employee may appeal, ultimately taking the issue to a tribunal if necessary. The arrangements are based on existing arrangements that have been successful in businesses and other leading organisations.

The task force brought together members from business, unions and family groups, and was led by Sir George Bain, who also leads the Low Pay Commission.

These proposals follow the increased rights and support for new parents set out in the Employment Relations Bill two weeks ago. The new proposals are aimed at parents with children under 6 (or disabled children up to 18). The TUC has welcomed the announcement, while suggesting that the cut off age of 6 should be subject to review.

Trade and Industry secretary Patricia Hewitt said "Fathers and mothers want more choice about how they balance work and family and the best businesses have already discovered that flexibility works for businesses as well as individuals... I believe these proposals will set in place legal standards that will revolutionise the culture of the workplace. It is credit to the hard work, commitment and dedication of the taskforce that they have delivered a unanimous report."

DTI proposals


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