The government is to explore ways to make it easier for employers to deal with flexible working requests in a new consultation process.
The consultation, which follows the government’s announcement that it would extend the right to request flexible working to all parents with children aged 16 years and under in May, will consider ways for employers to reduce the amount of paperwork associated with processing flexible working requests. It will also look at ways in which organisations can increase employees’ awareness of the right to request flexible working arrangements.
The consultation will also look at whether to scrap the requirement that employers must formally write to their staff to inform them whether or not their request has been accepted.
However, the charity Working Families has urged the government to be “careful” when reducing paperwork associated with the benefit. Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, said: “The process and its paperwork was designed to be a light touch and take-up so far shows how well it can work. Be careful about reducing paperwork which is there to protect the interests both of employer and employee. Verbal agreements can be open to misinterpretation, and when the future of somebody’s job or the success of someone’s business is at stake it is really important to have everything clearly recorded.”
The consultation will be open for 12 weeks.
The government is also to launch a campaign to raise awareness among groups who are currently often unaware of the right to request flexible working, such as fathers and carers. It will also provide information to employers about how to make dealing with requests simpler.