More parents to get the right to request flexible working

The right to request flexible working is to be extended to parents who have children up to the age of 16.

Until now, the right has only applied to parents of children under six or who are disabled.

The announcement by Business Secretary John Hutton follows a review carried out for the Government by Imelda Walsh, HR director at Sainsburys.

There will now be a consultation process on how the proposals should be implemented.

It’s estimated that up to 4.5 million parents will benefit. However, it should be remembered that although firms must give proper consideration to requests for flexible working, they do not have to grant those requests.

Mr Hutton said: "It is important that employers retain control over deciding whether it suits their business to allow people to work flexibly, but extending the right to request to parents of older children will allow families to take priority when decisions are made."

The review recommended that any change should be implemented at once rather than in stages to avoid creating confusion for both employers and employees. It also found that small businesses had a better record than large ones for accepting requests for flexible working.

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