CIPD implies Walsh’s flexible working review lacked independence

Imelda Walsh’s flexible working review lacked independence from the government, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) implied this morning.

National newspapers this weekend reported that prime minister Gordon Brown was about to act on Walsh’s review and extend the right to request flexible working to parents of children aged up to 12.

Walsh, Sainsbury’s HR director, is expected to publish her independent, government-commissioned report on how far to extend the right to request any day now. She is expected to advise the government to extend the right only as far as those with children under 13.

But Mike Emmott, CIPD employee relations adviser, said this limited extension is just what the government wants. “[Business secretary] John Hutton gave a clear public signal in February that he wanted Imelda Walsh’s review to only recommend a limited extension, so it is unsurprising that this now seems to be what will come out of the review,” he said.

Emmott called for the right to request to be extended to all.

“We wholly support moves to extend the right to request to more parents. But the government should be bolder still and extend the right to all workers,” he said.

“The danger with ever larger groups of people entitled to request flexible working, and a smaller number not entitled to do so, is that divisions will grow up in the workplace.”

Earlier this month, Personnel Today revealed that Walsh’s review and the ensuing debate over flexible working legislation was clouded by the fact many people were not taking up their right to request for fear it would damage their career prospects.

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