Flexible working rights go to extra 4.5 million
More than 10 million people will have the right to request flexible working from April 6th and government support is helping businesses get ready for the change.
Six million parents and carers already have the right to request flexible working from their employers, with another 4.5 million now gaining the right with its extension to parents of children aged 16 and under.
Employment Relations Minister Pat McFadden said:
"This is about balancing work and family life. Both workers and employers have felt the benefits of flexible working since we first introduced the right to request.
"Fewer mothers change jobs when they return to work meaning greater continuity for businesses and more employees have been able to work hours which help them cope with parental responsibilities.
"Firms can still say no if they have legitimate business concerns, but more than 95% of all requests for flexible working from working parents and carers are now accepted, as employers recognise the benefits more and more.
"Parenting doesn’t end as children get older. Extending the right to request will help more parents get the flexibility they need. The business benefits of flexible working are well documented and this remains the case in tougher economic times."
All carers and parents of children aged up to six, or children with disabilities aged up to 18, already have the right to request flexible working.
An independent review by Imelda Walsh last year recommended that the right to request should be extended to parents of children aged up to 16.
Flexible working embraces a wide variety of working practices, including compressed hours, working from home, or any pattern of hours other than the standard one in an organisation.
Benefits of flexible working to business include increased productivity and recruitment savings.
The government is boosting the free guidance and tools available to help businesses deal with flexible working requests.
Websites Business Link and Direct.gov give firms and individuals all the information they need to comply with the law, including online forms to deal with requests – helping save time and money.
In the run-up to April 6th the government is also contacting businesses to make sure they know where to find the free help available and do not need to pay for external advice.