Employment law changes may be postponed due to economic crisis

A raft of employment law changes could be put on hold due to the economic crisis, according to reports.

New business secretary Peter Mandelson is understood to have ordered a review of recent policy announcements – including the extension of the right to request flexible working.

The Independent quoted a government source as saying: “Everything is up for review. What was right two weeks ago might not be right now.”

The extension of the right to request flexible working to all those with children aged up to 16 is set to be postponed, according to the paper. This extension – currently the right is only available to those with children up to the age of six – was planned for April 2009.

Sarah Jackson, chief executive of charity Working Families, said: “Peter Mandelson rightly wants to ease the burden on firms so that they are less likely to shed jobs, and more likely to emerge stronger from the economic downturn. But today’s suggestion may critically undermine this aim.

“Flexible working is one of the most effective tools a business can use to retain staff to avoid the costs, complexity and risk of redundancies and to focus on maintaining motivation, commitment and performance.”

David Yeandle, head of employment policy at manufacturers’ body the EEF, welcomed the news.

“We have always argued that the government needed to give employers more time to adapt to the current legislation before extending it further, a move which is now reinforced by the more difficult economic environment that we are now facing,” he said.

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