The Government has announced plans to extend the right to request flexible working, a move that it claims will benefit up to 300,000 people.
The extension will mean that parents of children aged under 18 will be able to request flexible working. Currently, the right is available to parents of children under 17, as well as parents of disabled children under 18 and carers of certain adults.
The extension will come into force from April 2011. The Government has also announced it will launch a consultation later this year which will look at how to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, and examine a new system of flexible parental leave.
Announcing the plans, employment relations minister Edward Davey said: “We want to help parents and create a fairer, family-friendly society. This immediate change will give parents of all children regardless of age the same right to request flexible working. It will also make it simpler for employers and employees to identify whether or not they are eligible to make a request.”
Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone commented: “A family-friendly workplace is a business-friendly workplace. Companies are missing out the skills and talents of too many people who are forced to choose between raising a family and having a job, so we will be working with businesses to change this in a way that will make life better for employers, employees and the economy.”
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber also welcomed the announcement: “Extending the right to request and improving parental leave arrangements will help make Britain a more family-friendly place to work. Unions have always negotiated good flexible arrangements with progressive employers but some businesses need a push.
“Experience shows the best way to achieve cultural change is to offer flexible working to all workers and the TUC will press for a universal right when the Government consults on this later in the year.”