Government Flexible Working Consultation Ends

LONDON, 8 August 2011 - The government's consultation - “Modern Workplaces” - which suggests changes to parental leave and flexible working rights, ends today, Monday 8 August 2011.

Vanessa Hogan, senior associate at law firm Hogan Lovells commented:

"The IOD is right to raise concerns about the proposed reforms to flexible working.  Simply transposing the existing statutory procedure into a Code of Practice does not address the concerns of many employers. That said, it is important to remember that the proposals are to extend the right to request flexible working - not the right to actually work flexibly. While the Government is proposing to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, the eight business reasons under which a flexible working request can be rejected will remain unchanged. 

"When facing multiple flexible working requests an employer's main concern is likely to be the risk of an indirect discrimination claim from an employee whose request to work flexibly for childcare reasons (for example) is refused.  Employers (and employees) would benefit from better guidance on how the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees interacts with an employer's duty not to indirectly discriminate. 

"In our experience clients are open to retaining and recruiting talent. Many employers will entertain a request to work flexibly either through an informal request system or as a result of a formal statutory request. Most are open to granting requests provided their business can support the request by the employees."

Maya Cronly-Dillon, senior associate at Hogan Lovells, added:

"While the current regime targets those with childcare responsibilities and carers, the latest proposals require employers to consider flexible working requests by any employee whatever the reason. Managing competing requests made for different reasons could pose some tricky employee relations issues. Certainly the expanded scope for potential requests will mean more management time spent handling them, an increased risk of grievances and, possibly, discrimination claims from employees who have their requests turned down." 


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