Govt set to expand flexible working

The government is set to expand flexible working to parents of children up to 16 years old, following recommendations in an independent review.

The measure – one of the most warmly received sections of yesterday’s draft Queen’s Speech – would expand the system to another 4.5 million parents.

“This report will give a big boost to busy parents who need more help balancing work and family life,” said John Hutton, business secretary.

“It can also help employers who often find they get the best out of mums and dads when they allow them to work flexibly.

“It is important that employers retain control over deciding whether it suits their business allow people to work flexibly, but extending the right to request to parents of older children will allow families to take priority when decisions are made,” he concluded.

The reports urged the government to fight the impression of flexible working being a ‘women’s’ issue, and pointed out men made up 45 per cent of the 14 million employees currently working flexibly. It also highlighted the fact that smaller businesses had a better record on the issue than larger ones.

The report was authored by Imelda Walsh, Sainsbury’s HR director.

Around six million employees currently have the right to request flexible working but over 14 million employees, including part-time workers, actually work flexibly.

Flexible working arrangements include working from home, part-time work, compressed hours or flexi-time arrangmements.