Fear of career stagnation keeps flexible working at bay

Most HR professionals think employees are too afraid to take flexible working perks for fear of hindering their career prospects, according to a new study.

The research into flexible working by Croner HR consulting reveals that while 83% of HR professionals believe staff should be able to change their working hours to accommodate childcare needs, 61% think employees are too afraid to ask for it.

Employers currently have a legal obligation to consider all requests from employees with children under the age of six to work flexible hours, but are not required to agree to such requests if it can be ‘reasonably justified’ as not in the best interest of their business.

According to the survey six out of ten do not even have a flexible working policy in place, leaving companies open to legal action.

Last week a new mother won a discrimination suit after her employer turned down her request not to work evenings or weekends.

An employment tribunal in Birmingham upheld Deborah Clarke’s claim of indirect sex discrimination and unfair dismissal after she was forced to resign from her job at a Telewest call centre.

Jenny Watson, acting chairwoman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said: “This decision reinforces a simple, and by now, well-known fact. Employers need to make it easier for employees to combine work with their childcare commitments.”

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