Flexible working review reports regarded with suspicion by TUC chief

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber has questioned “astonishing” reports that the government plans to suspend the extension of the right to request flexible working for parents of older children.

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 reported that a government source had said: “Everything is up for review. What was right two weeks ago might not be right now.”

Barber said he was sceptical of changes, but warned there would be consequences if the extension was suspended.

“We find these reports hard to believe,” he said. “Postponing a simple right to request flexible working would not save a single job in the small business sector. If such a request harms the business, the owner can say no.”

“This would be an astonishingly irrelevant response to the severe economic downturn that we face and, in addition, would run the risk of sending a message to working parents that the government is not on their side,” he added.

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