Majority of employers back flexible working option for all staff

Two-thirds
of UK organisations support proposals that recommend extending current flexible
working legislation so that more employees would benefit from it.

The
second quarterly HR Trends and Indicators survey, published by the Chartered
Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), quizzed more than 2,000 HR
professionals and found that almost half (46 per cent) back the right being
extended to all workers.

Mike
Emmott, CIPD head of employee relations, said that when the legal right for
parents to request flexible working arrangements was introduced last year, the
institute urged that it should apply to all employees.

"The
Government will need to consider this option very seriously when it completes
its intended review of the legislation in two years’ time," he said.

"The
way the legislation is framed seems to have struck about the right balance
between encouragement and enforcement, with employers currently using the
existing flexible working laws to reinforce good practice," Emmott said.

"We
see no reason why the right should not be extended to all workers so as to
provide reassurance that no group of workers is being unfairly treated."

The
report also shows that UK organisations’ biggest current worry is the prospect
of the working-time opt-out being removed.

A
quarter of UK organisations say that removing the opt-out would have a
significant impact on their organisations, compared to only 5 per cent who cite
the Government’s new flexible working laws as a problem. 

Other
key findings:


More than 80 per cent of employers plan to recruit in summer 2004
(June-August).  Almost six out of 10 (58
per cent) employers plan to recruit additional new staff.


Around 40 per cent of respondents expect to be employing more staff by the
summer of 2005, against just 17 per cent who expect to employ fewer – a
positive balance of 23 per cent, up from 19 per cent in the spring survey


Recruitment intentions by region are highest in London (87 per cent of
employers) and the South East (85 per cent).


Almost half the respondents anticipate recruitment difficulties over the summer
months and a third expect retention difficulties.  More than a fifth of respondents reported having no applicants
for vacancies.

By Quentin Reade

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