Employers expected to welcome government’s u-turn on flexible working

Employers are expected to welcome the government’s climbdown over extending the right to request flexible working to parents with children aged above six years and employees who do not have children.

Business secretary, John Hutton, paved the way for a government u-turn on plans to extend the right to request flexible working in a speech to lawyers earlier this week.

Hutton appeared to dampen the prospect of an extension when he said the initial findings of the review suggested that employers would be more likely to refuse a request if faced with a flood of demands for flexible working and that they could then end up rejecting them all.

However, Claire McCartney, principle researcher at Roffey Park, believes that in practice this would not be the case. She said: “Employers get scared that they will be inundated with requests, but just because employees are offered the chance to work flexibly, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to take the option.

“I don’t think employees will come up with unrealistic proposals either, if they are going to work flexibly it will be in small amounts, just enough to make their lives easier – they may be quite sensible about this.”

The review into flexible working is expected to be completed in the spring.