Employers will accept proposed extensions to family-friendly and flexible-working employment rights, the CBI said today.
However, the employers’ body said this should be matched by better regulation which would limit the scope of new rights and introduce new measures to reduce the burden on businesses.
In its response to the Department of Trade and Industry consultation, Choice and Flexibility, the CBI said the introduction of new rights must be accompanied by a commitment from government to introduce no further changes in this area during the lifetime of this parliament.
This would give time for the new rights to bed in and for their impact to be assessed.
Under government plans maternity leave would be extended to 9 months by April 2007 and mothers and fathers would be able to share some of the leave.
John Cridland, deputy director-general of the CBI, said employers had been active in implementing new family-friendly employment rights, and were willing to go the extra mile with further extensions to these benefits.
“But this will inevitably add to the burden, particularly for smaller businesses, and our members expect the extended rights to be introduced in a balanced way, and to be the last for some time,” he said.
He said that if employment rights went too far, they will actually cost jobs rather than improve them.
In detail, the CBI response says that employers:
- accept the extension of paid maternity leave to nine months by April 2007 and to 12 months by the end of this Parliament, but only as long as the right to return to the same job is not extended beyond the current six months
- and notice required for mothers to return early from maternity leave must be increased to three months
- agree to the proposal allowing mothers to transfer part of their leave and pay to fathers, but only after six months and only if employers receive three months’ notice of a transfer
- agree with extending the number of employees who can request flexible working, but only one group at a time, and preferably to those with caring responsibilities first.