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Flexi reform for parents

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The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has today welcomed the government’s firm reiteration of its commitment to an early consultation on the extension of the right to request to all workers, while warning that the decision to repeal April’s planned extension of flexible working to the parents of older children must not be allowed to be seen as conceding the argument that flexible working is only ever a cost or burden on business.

Highlighting that many thousands of firms are benefitting from their decisions to extend flexible working well beyond minimum requirements, Ben Willmott, Senior Policy Adviser at the CIPD, says: “While we’re disappointed with the decision to repeal the extension of the right to request flexible working to more parents, we’re heartened that the government has reiterated its commitment to an early consultation on the extension of the right to request to all workers.

“Nonetheless, we’ll continue to press the government to proceed at the earliest opportunity with the light-touch regulation necessary to extend the right to request to all workers. This is little more than a nudge for some employers to introduce a measure that is already proving to make sound business sense for many more.

“We understand the argument that multiple changes to flexible working regulations are not helpful.  But this limited repeal mustn’t be seen as conceding the ill-conceived belief that flexible working can only ever be seen as a regulatory burden and a cost.  Millions of workers already benefit from flexible working well beyond anything enshrined in legislation, because employers in firms large and small see the benefits they derive from a more flexible, more engaged, more diverse and more effective workforce as a result.

“This is true now, at a time when jobs are scarce and unemployment is high, and will come into even sharper focus as the economy recovers and competition for talent grows.  Regardless of legislation, many employers will sensibly continue to develop flexible and family friendly cultures in their firms, and will be better placed to attract and retain the skills and experience they need as the labour market tightens.

“Recognising that your employees have lives outside of work, and seeking to accommodate those lives where business requirements allow isn’t a cost, it is a sensible employee retention and motivation strategy that can boost organisational performance and economic growth.”

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