CIPD dismay over government caution on right to request flexible working

Government reluctance to extend the right to request flexible working to include more parents, has been met with disappointment by the CIPD and the unions.

Last week, business secretary John Hutton warned of a backlash from employers if the right to ask for flexible working was extended.

But Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), accused Hutton of lacking awareness of workplace realities.

“The government’s own figures show overwhelming support by employers for the legislation, with nine out of 10 employers already willing to consider a request to change working patterns from any employee.

“It’s deeply disappointing that the government appears once more to have turned down this opportunity,” he said. “Employers are perfectly capable of determining what their own priorities are if there are competing claims by employees. Government insistence on identifying privileged groups will be increasingly seen as irrelevant and unhelpful,” Emmott added.

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said the business lobby had opposed the right to request flexible working at every stage.

“At the very least, the government should match the Conservative Party pledge to extend the right to request flexible working to all parents. But it should be more ambitious and extend it to all workers,” he said.

Imelda Walsh, HR director at supermarket giant Sainsbury’s is leading an independent review into how the current right to request flexible working can be extended to parents with children aged up to 17.

However, Hutton warned: “We want to avoid a situation where employers are so overwhelmed with requests that they feel they have to say no to everyone.”

Sally Low, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce said it was reassuring that Hutton recognised the additional burden that an extension of flexible working will place on employers.

Comments are closed.