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UK – Deputy Prime Minster proposes more “flexible” working

13 November 2012

Mr Clegg is expected today to set out proposals to extend the right to request flexible work to all employees

According to Robert Winnett, Political Editor of the Telegraph writing on Sunday, the Liberal Democrat leader will say: “Right now, parents and some carers can ask for more flexible working patterns — compressed hours, flexitime, working from home, that kind of thing. But people don’t always take advantage of it. There can still be stigma attached – especially for fathers”.

“But giving everyone this new right will help drive a culture shift in the workplace. And it will be possible for other relatives, grandparents and even close family friends to change the way they work in order to help with child care.”

Commenting on the speech the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC)’s chief executive Kevin Green says:

 “In focusing his announcement on the benefits to working parents Nick Clegg is approaching the issue of flexible working from the wrong angle.

“Businesses should consider more flexible working patterns for all their staff not because it’s seen as a benefit to workers but because there are solid, hard-headed business reasons for doing so. Our research found that employers can reduce absenteeism, improve staff morale and productivity and are better able to attract and retain top talent if they adopt more flexible working arrangements. Recruiters can help employers to embed flexible working practices and review job design.

“More government regulation isn’t the solution to making this behaviour more widespread, and it could actually hinder it. Most employers say informal negotiation between line managers and staff is the preferred route to flexibility and some see extensions to the right to request as a regulatory risk. In the end, it’s all about workplace culture – and that’s something you have to foster, role-model and encourage, it’s very hard to achieve with legislation.”

Katja Hall, CBI Chief Policy Director, has a similar response when she said:

“Flexible parental leave is a good way to support working families and businesses realise that this helps to retain talent. We must ensure that the new system is simple to administer, and does not give rise to legal action from fathers seeking parental rights that mirror those available to mothers.

"Companies support the right of all staff to request flexible working, but they must be able to decide each case on its merits, as it may not be practical for all firms.”


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