Majority of flexible working requests are granted

Employers
are granting almost 8 out of 10 requests to work flexibly from parents with
young children, according to statistics released today by the Department of
Trade and Industry.

The
new figures mark the first anniversary of the Government’s introduction of the
right to request flexible working for parents of young or disabled children.

The
statistics show that since last April, almost a quarter (24 per cent) of those
parents have requested to work flexibly.

The
findings also show that:


Of the employees who requested flexible working, 8 in 10 (77 per cent) requests
were fully accepted by bosses, and 9 per cent were partly accepted or a
compromise was reached


The proportion of flexible working requests that have been declined has nearly
halved – from 2 per cent before April 2003, to 11 per cent afterward – which
suggests the regulations have increased employers’ willingness to consider
requests seriously


Fifty-eight per cent of parents with children under six years of age were aware
of the new flexible working rights


Employees in sales and customer services were most likely to request flexible
working (19 per cent)


Female staff with children under six years of age were more likely to request
flexible work than their male counterparts (37 per cent and 10 per cent
respectively)


Four in 10 (43 per cent) of employees requested flexible working for childcare
reasons, with more than half (58 per cent) of women making an application on
these grounds.

The
new data comes from a sample of almost 3,500 employees in Great Britain carried
out over four months by the Office of National Statistics.

Trade
and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt, who is also Cabinet Minister for Women,
welcomed the findings, saying:

"I’m
delighted that the new right has proved popular with both parents and employers
on its first birthday.

"With
more women in work than ever before, employers cannot afford to ignore the
benefits of flexible working, including recruitment, retention and staff
morale.

"Employers
have sent out a signal of support for flexible working, and this should give
more parents the confidence to raise the issue with their boss – either
informally, or through the new right."

By Quentin Reade

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