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Concerns over requesting flexible working are unfounded, claims survey

28th Oct 2003
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The flexible working regulations introduced in April 2003 have proved to be user-friendly for organisations in both the private and public sectors, according to research by CIPD and international law firm Lovells, based on responses from 500 organisations.

'A Parent's Right to Ask' reveals that almost two in three employers who have received statutory requests have agreed to at least half of them. Nine out of ten employers say they have had no significant problems complying with the new right to ask, with cost an issue for just 13%. Two-thirds of employers believe that the current package of family-friendly rights has not tipped the balance too far in favour of working parents.

Just under half of organisations (47%) report that many employees who are not entitled to the right resent those who are. However, most employers are receptive to the idea of a universal right to ask for flexible working, with over 70% of all employers willing to consider requests from all staff.

Interestingly, take-up of the new right has been skewed in favour of women: more than half the employers who have received statutory requests since April have received no requests from men.

Key findings:

* It is not just clerical workers (44%) who are exercising their right to ask for flexible working. Professionals (27%), managers (21%) and technical staff (20%) are also taking up their rights.

* 68% of employers believe that the opportunity to work flexibly has had a positive effect on employee attitudes and morale.

* Employers do not consider the costs of implementing the statutory right a significant problem. But exploring alternative work arrangements and managing employee expectations are among the biggest problems employers have (or anticipate having) with implementing the new right.

* 28% of employers have seen an increase in the total number of requests for flexible working since the right was introduced.

* 76% say that the impact of the legislation on their organisation has been negligible and 90% report no significant problems complying with the new requirements.

* Part-time work and coming in late / leaving early are the most frequently requested forms of flexible work.

David Harper, head of Lovells' specialist employment practice, commented: "Six months on, it seems that the new right usually does not present employers with serious problems and may even bring benefits. Anything which improves productivity, staff retention, and workplace morale must be worthwhile, when stress and sickness-related absences are growing problems."

Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, said: "It is good news that employers are taking a sensible approach to flexible working. This survey shows that employers are finding the new laws both easy to use and beneficial to their business.

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By AnonymousUser
31st Oct 2003 15:02

I think it would be far more fair to offer this to all employees who also have responsibilites for care of elderly, disabled, etc.

This should cause less animousity in the workplace among young men/women who may suffer in the workplace due to what collegues may see as special priveleges.

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