CBI condemns children’s minister Beverley Hughes’ call to extend flexible working rights to all employees

The CBI has slammed a government minister’s call for flexible working rights to be extended to all employees, insisting that such a move would be foolish.

Children’s minister Beverley Hughes said that all 29 million UK workers should be able to request family-friendly hours.

Currently, only parents with children who are under the age of six or disabled have the right to request flexible working.

From April, this right will be extended to all carers, but in a book to celebrate 10 years of Labour rule, Politics for a New Generation, Hughes calls for it to go much further.

However, CBI’s director of HR policy, Susan Anderson, said: “Firms must have the time they require to accommodate the varying needs of their staff. It would be foolish to put the continued success of the policy at risk.”

Anderson added that the right to request flexible working had worked well so far, but must be reviewed before it could be extended.

“Only by having a gradual and phased extension can we avoid firms being deluged under a sudden increase in requests,” she said. “We must also bear in mind the fact that companies still need to get the job done.”

The CBI last month signed a pledge with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to encourage flexible working. Kay Carberry, assistant director-general of the TUC, said at the signing that unions would step up their campaign for flexible working rights.

“Those [employers] who resist will find that the demand for flexible working from unions will become more vociferous,” she told Personnel Today.

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