Flexible working request rights to be extended in April

The government will introduce the extension of the right to request flexible working for parents of older children this April, despite speculation that the new law may be delayed because of the recession.

In response to employers’ concerns, the government said it would help minimise the cost of implementing the new rules through clear guidance and simplified procedures.

The new law will see parents with kids aged 16 or under able to make flexible working requests, which the employer is obliged to consider. Currently, only parents with children aged six or under, or those with disabled children aged 18 or under, can apply for flexible working.

Employment minister Pat McFadden said yesterday: “Firms can still say no if they have legitimate business concerns, but more than 95% of all requests for flexible working from working parents and carers are now accepted, as employers recognise the benefits more and more.”

In October last year, newspapers reported that the government was set to halt the introduction of the legislation to quell business fears that it would add to red tape in an already difficult economic climate.

However, business secretary Peter Mandelson told the Business and Enterprise Committee that he had not spoken to the press and was merely listening to union and employer views on the issue.

The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform said it would monitor the introduction of the legislation with regular surveys.

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