Yesterday’s papers reported on the possible delaying of the proposed increase in parents’ rights to request flexible working. This is apparently due to the economic downturn. As the Independent reports:
Lord Mandelson, the Secretary of State for Business, has ordered his officials to review all policies in the pipeline to ease the burden on firms so they are less likely to shed jobs, cut investment or go bust. The plan to extend the right to flexitime from parents of children under six to all those with children up to 16 was trumpeted by Gordon Brown and approved by Labour’s annual conference last month. It looks likely, however, to be kicked into the long grass.
Apparently an estimated 811,000 mothers and fathers were expected to request flexible working next year. Some small businesses have criticised the proposed extension saying it is not economically viable for them. Personally I think that if they were supported they could ultimately have a happier and more efficient work force making it a cost-effective plan.
In a BBC news article the TUC general secretary Brendan Barber is reported as saying:
“Postponing a simple right to request flexible working would not save a single job in the small business sector. If such a request harms the business, the owner can say no. This would be an astonishingly irrelevant response to the severe economic downturn that we face and, in addition, would run the risk of sending a message to working parents that the government is not on their side.“
At the moment the number of working parents is at a 15-year high. Something has to give….