Should Flexible Working Rights be Extended?

  9th May 2012      
 Company News

As new reports suggest that the Government is poised to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, the CIPD discuss their new research and whether this extension is a good idea. Currently, employees such as agency workers and those in the armed forces cannot request flexible working conditions.

New report, Flexible working provision and uptake, from the CIPD shows that only 4% of eligible employers have had difficulty complying with the right to request flexible working, introduced nearly ten years ago, with the vast majority of employers able to provide flexible arrangements to at least some employees. Moreover, the research goes on to show that 7 out of 10 of these employers report that flexible working supports retention, motivation and engagement.

People working for micro and small firms are more likely to be working flexibly, and in fact the findings show that small employers are least likely to report difficulties with instituting this change. Whilst 78% of people in small firms work flexibly in some way, this number drops to 29% for large-sized employers. The different types of set-ups which are used also vary greatly in popularity; 32% of people surveyed work part-time, 25% used flexitime, 20% from home, although only 1% job shared.

Ben Willmott, CIPD Head of Public Policy, comments: “The CIPD has long been calling for the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees, despite claims from some quarters that the legislation is burdensome for businesses. Similar concerns were raised over a decade ago about the plans to introduce the statutory right to request flexible working for parents. Those fears have proved unfounded – regardless of size of organisation.

“Our report also shows that wild claims about risk that extending the light-touch right to request legislation would lead to large numbers of tribunal claims are unfounded. The right to request flexible working has not contributed to any significant increase in employment tribunal claims… Put simply, flexible working works for business, and the Government should hold its nerve and go ahead with the extension to all employees. The result will be good news for business, employers and the wider economy.”

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