Flexible working request delay called for by manufacturers

Manufacturers have urged the government to delay plans to extend the right to request flexible working to more employees.

The plea follows a survey of 446 companies in the sector by employers’ body the EEF that found the majority had experienced practical problems with implementing the current legislation, and were opposed to extending the right to request flexible working beyond those already covered.

The statutory right to request flexible working covers parents of young and disabled children and carers of certain adults. The government is expected to publish a review by Sainsbury’s HR director Imelda Walsh into the extension of the right to request in the coming weeks.

Peter Schofield, EEF’s director of employment and legal affairs, said: “While manufacturers have seen benefits from the introduction of flexible working, the last thing they need now is to have to consider more and more requests.

“They need to be given time before this right is extended to more employees. If it is extended, they are more likely to say ‘no’ and some people who really need to work flexibly could then miss out.”

The EEF also said the legal right to request flexible working should only cover employees with caring responsibilities. For other staff, employers will increasingly provide flexible working arrangements on a voluntary basis to attract and retain the brightest and the best.

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