Flexible working plans face hiatus

Proposals for implementing the new duty to consider flexible-working
requests look set to be delayed.

The issue has been given added urgency by reports that work-life balance has
taken on a new significance following the terrorist atrocities.

But the mid-November deadline for the Work and Parents Taskforce, set up in
June to report on how such a law could be introduced, is unlikely to be met
according to a DTI spokesman.

Though the Government plans to introduce the new right by April 2002, the
taskforce report could be months rather than weeks.

Chaired by former Low Pay Commission chair Sir George Bain, the taskforce is
charged with coming up with a "light touch" legislative way to give
working parents the legal right to ask for flexible hours and have their
requests "considered seriously".

A particularly tall order for the panel, which includes two senior HR
practitioners, is to find a way of placing a legal onus on employers without
adding to the employment tribunal caseload or increasing their bureaucratic
burden.

Even City high-flyers are asking for flexible opportunities as never before
following the cataclysmic events of 11 September, according to a Personnel
Today report (30 October).

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