Few parents apply for flexible working

Only
a tiny fraction of employees have made a request to work flexibly since
regulations aimed at helping working parents were introduced nearly six months
ago.

Less
than 1 in 1,300 employees has made a request – although around 1 in 7 of the
working population is eligible to apply.

Since
April this year, under the Employment Act working parents with children under
the age of six or disabled children under the age of 18 have the right to
request flexible working arrangements.

The
survey of 25 employers employing over 125,000 people by law firm Klegal found
that less than half had received any flexible working requests at all since
April and only 97 requests had been received in total.

Commenting
on the findings, Colina Greenway, director in people services at KLegal,
said:  "These findings are
something of a surprise, given all the evidence pointing to a desire among
employees to work more flexibly.

"It
could be that employees are still simply not aware of their rights, or that
they would rather not be the first in their workplace to request a change.

"
Some could be worried that applying might jeopardise their job security – even
though the law says it shouldn’t."

The
most commonly requested change of the applications made was for a reduction in
working hours. Around 30 per cent of requests had been made by men, and around
40 per cent of requests were granted by the employer without any modification.

When
asked whether the introduction of flexible working had had an impact on
relations with staff, 28 per cent of companies surveyed believed that it had
had a positive effect, most notably on staff retention/recruitment and staff
morale.

Almost
all of the companies polled considered the burden of introducing flexible
working to have been negligible or insignificant – perhaps not surprising given
the low number of requests received.

By Ben Willmott

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