More flexible working will help business and families

The government’s proposals to extend flexible working rights to parents of teenage children will have pronounced benefits for both the work-life balance of the individuals involved and the companies for which they work (Personnel Today, 13 November).

In changing the lone parent benefits age limit, single parents will more easily be able to gain employment to support their children by allowing a more flexible approach to working hours.

We repeatedly hear from clients that employees would like to devote as much time to their children during the teenage years as they did when they were small. These proposals would allow parents to further satisfy this need while maintaining a regular income.

With staff retention and employee engagement two of the biggest issues facing HR departments, the scheme would also be hugely beneficial to organisations. By offering staff more malleable working practices, the chances of losing talent through inflexible work patterns would be reduced.

Similarly, the proven increase in employee motivation and commitment upon achieving work-life balance would reduce unauthorised absences related to domestic issues and remove the related cost implications to the business.

Adrienne Heeley
Practice leader Work-life services
Right Corecare

Campaign to tackle stress in uni and college staff

 The survey on the amount of stress in UK universities and colleges being more prevalent than five years ago (, 5 November) confirms the results of our own surveys of stress, workload and bullying in both further and higher education.

It is certainly the case that many institutions in both sectors are not sufficiently proactive in treating stress as a health and safety hazard that should be audited and controlled. High stress levels are often indicative of wider concerns about inappropriate management culture.

We are commencing a long-term campaign to get our local representatives, especially health and safety representatives, to insist that the best possible health and safety practice is implemented so that institutions abide by their duty of care to staff.

Roger Kline
Head of equality and employment rights,
University and College Union

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