The right to request flexible working will be extended to parents of children under 18 from April 2011 and a consultation will be launched later this year looking at how to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees including the design of a new system of flexible parental leave, according to Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey.
The right to request flexible working is currently available to parents of children aged under 17, parents of disabled children under 18 and carers of certain adults.
The consultation will be part of the ongoing employment law review, which is committed to maximising flexibility for both employers and employees while protecting fairness and providing the competitive environment required for enterprise to thrive.
“We want to help parents and create a fairer, family friendly society,” said Davey. “We will be launching a consultation later this year to make sure the law better supports real families juggling work and family life, and the businesses that employ them.
“This immediate change will give parents of all children regardless of age the same right to request flexible working. It will also make it simpler for employers and employees to identify whether they are eligible to make a request.
“The plans we will unveil later this year are much more ambitious but these interim measures will help us learn valuable lessons and are an important first step.”
Lynne Featherstone, Equalities Minister, added: “A family-friendly workplace is a business-friendly workplace. Companies are missing out the skills and talents of too many people who are forced to choose between raising a family and having a job, so we will be working with businesses to change this in a way that will make life better for employers, employees and the economy.
“This will be a long process involving wide-ranging change, and today’s measures are the first stage in that journey.”
Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, said: ”We are pleased to see the extension of the right to request flexible working to parents of children under 18 from next April. †
“Closing this loophole will particularly benefit parents of disabled children who do not currently have a right to request if their 17 year old is not entitled to DLA under the strict terms of the legislation.
”We are also pleased that the additional paternity leave provisions will be going ahead in April 2011.†Women who are pregnant now are planning with their partners for next April and employers need to prepare policies. Both will benefit from this certainty.
“We look forward to the consultation on designing a new system of flexible parental leave and urge the government to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees as soon as possible. We know that parents and carers will benefit when workplaces embrace flexibility as the way to work and cultures will change rapidly once the right to request is available to all.”
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