This week’s letters

Wrong to judge a book by its cover

I am astonished that Aziz Corporation bothered to take the time to carry out
its research on make-up (News, 27 November). Surely there are more important

If there are directors who choose candidates on the basis of how their make-up
looks, then it is not surprising that British industry is in the state it is.

I agree that appearance is important, and if interviewing you tend to have a
better first impression if someone is well turned out. I do not, however, when
interviewing women analyse their make-up and cannot believe that any
professional HR or business person would do.

Karen Parker
(Make-up wearing) HR manager, Alloy Wheels International

Gain from being family-friendly

The Work and Parents Taskforce proposals (News, 27 November) recognise the
cost to employers of losing valuable staff who want to be good parents as well
as contribute to the success of their organisation.

The suggested framework will enable fathers, as well as mothers, to sit down
with their employers to find a workable solution to their request to change
their hours. I hope this will challenge any existing assumptions about
part-time work and mean fewer cases end up at tribunal.

As with any first step, there are limitations. Only parents of children under
six will benefit and anyone who has had to juggle childcare over the school
holidays will know that working flexibly is an important issue to parents with
older children. Tribunals will not be able to question an employer’s decision,
only the process that led to it.

Of course, the best businesses already support family-friendly working, but
these recommendations provide a chance for the rest to catch up and reap the
rewards of a committed, motivated workforce.

Julie Mellor
Chairwoman, Equal Opportunities Commission

Help needed to fulfil flexible duty

I find it odd that parent lobby groups do not view the new duty on employers
to consider parents’ requests to work flexibly as a victory.

While it is true that employers will be able to refuse requests to work
flexible hours on business grounds, they may have to go to tribunal to prove
that they tried to meet an individual’s request.

Some 60 per cent of firms that employ over 10 staff have some flexible
working in place.

Surely it would be better to offer some tailored support to those employers
who do not think they can offer flexible hours. An expert in flexible working
should be made available – free of charge – to help small firms rather than
leaving them open to the fear of an employment tribunal.

Stephanie James
Policy adviser, British Chambers of Commerce

CIPD welcomes new legislation

The CIPD welcomes the recommendations of the Work and Parents Taskforce. The
emphasis is on workplace resolution of issues, so employers will have to
seriously consider requests from parents of young children to work flexibly and
when for business reasons they are unable to agree, they will be able to
refuse. Provided employers follow proper procedures, their judgement will not be
vulnerable to challenge in a tribunal.

On these and other issues, the recommendations are closely in line with CIPD

The institute accepts that adding further employment regulation can cause
problems, particularly for smaller firms.

Given the Government’s commitment to legislate on flexible working, however,
we feel the taskforce could hardly have done more to meet its remit of
identifying a "light touch solution".

Mike Emmott
Employee relations adviser, CIPD

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