CIPD praises decision not to put flexible working extension on hold

CIPD chief executive Jackie Orme has praised the government for “holding its nerve” with its decision to extend flexible working rights as planned.

It had been feared that the extension of the right to request flexible working – to parents with children up to the age of 16 – would be put on hold due to the economic crisis.

There was no mention of the extension in the Queen’s Speech itself, but the government confirmed it would go ahead in April as originally planned.

Employment relations minister Pat McFadden said today: “We said our plan was to introduce this extended right in April 2009 and I can confirm that we will do so. Flexible working can give employers and employees valuable flexibility – helping to keep businesses profitable and people at work.”

Orme said: “We are delighted that CIPD calls for the government to hold its nerve and proceed with the extension of the right to request flexible working have been heeded.

“All our evidence shows that flexible working is good for employers and employees alike. Part-time and flexible workers are happier, more engaged with their work, and therefore more likely to perform better and be more productive, which just as important in a downturn as in the good times – if not more so.”

Sainsbury’s HR director Imelda Walsh recommended to the government in May that the right to request non-standard working patterns be extended to those with children up to the age of 16. It is currently available to those with children up to age six, and registered carers.

But business secretary Peter Mandelson admitted in October that he was listening to arguments that the extension should be put on hold to allow employers to focus on fighting the economic crisis.

“If the British Chambers of Commerce or the EEF say to me these proposals for regulation are going to be onerous in the current economic climate, and can we postpone them for a year or more, then I will consider that,” Mandelson said.

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