Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Flexible working rights to be extended

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg today announced plans to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees "as soon as Parliamentary time allows."

Currently any parent with a child under 17, or under 18 if their child is disabled, can ask for more flexible working patterns, but the new plan will see all employees able to request and suggest a flexible working arrangement. 

At present there is no guarantee that any request will be granted, and this is not going to change- so employers have nothing to worry about. They will be given guidance and while they will not be compelled to agree to requests if they adversely affect the needs of the business, it is worth weighing up each request when made, and on its own merits. Refusing a request just to maintain the status quo can put enormous pressure on employees with caring responsibilities, travel difficulties and so on. Too often these staff are forced to move on or reduce hours, leading to a loss of skills and trained personnel. A little flexibility by employers can save huge problems in the long term.

The DPM also confirmed that the UK will look to adopt a new scheme of flexible parental leave. A new mother with time left in her original maternity leave year will be able to share it with her partner- giving women who are the major earners more flexibility to return to work more quickly and allow their partners to take advantage of the leave on offer. In short, new parents will be able to share leave and pay between them meaning they both get time with their baby and share the responsibility of care.

It was confirmed that a planned change that would see extended paternity leave has been put on hold until around 2018 while the economic outlook remains uncertain.

The plans will be considered in Parliament soon and we will keep our clients updated with changes and what they mean for them. 


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