Report calls for extension of right to request to work flexibly

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A new report on the impact of the first year of the Right to Request legislation has found that many employers still fail to understand it or are deliberately flouting its requirements.

The report recommends:

  • The age restrictions on the Right to Request should be removed and the right extended to all employees.

  • There should be a right to have flexible hours, rather than a right to request them, unless there is an objective business justification for not granting the request.

  • The Right to Request should explicitly offer greater options for employers and employees to agree temporary or permanent changes to working arrangements.

  • Remedies under the legislation should be increased.

  • More awareness-raising and training for both parents and employers. In particular, more work needs to be done to make sure that fathers know this right applies to them. And there is a clear need for manager training, so they understand the benefits of flexible working and how to manage staff working flexibly.

  • The link between the high cost of childcare and parents’ ability to work flexibly should be addressed.

Research, carried out by campaigning charity Working Families, found that:

  • 60% of parents who had requested to work flexibly had had their requests agreed.
  • Half of the reasons given for refusal did not fit the allowable grounds set by the legislation.
  • Several respondents were told that they couldn’t work flexibly unless they relinquished management/supervisory roles.
  • No employers cited the “burden of additional costs” as the reason for refusal.
  • Most employers said the legislation had had little impact on them and reported a relatively low take up rate.
  • Parents cited the high cost of childcare and the mindset of employers as barriers to flexible working and called for wider eligibility and stronger legal powers.
  • "Too many employers clearly fail to understand the benefits of flexibility and feel free to flout the requirements of the legislation", said Working Families Chief Executive Sarah Jackson.

    "We are pleased that the Government is monitoring the impact of the Right to Request and we hope that it heeds our call for the right to flexible working to be extended to everyone and for stronger legislation to tackle bad employers," she added.

    Flexible working at Asda
    Flexible working - one year on

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