The government has announced that it plans to extend the right to ask for more flexible ways of working to parents of children aged under 18 as from April 2011.
The currently the regulations allow requests for alternative work patterns to achieve a better balance between work and home for the following groups
- parents of children aged up to 17
- parents of disabled children aged under 18
- carers of certain adults
To qualify for making a request, employees must be continuously employed by the same employer for more than 26 weeks. All employers have a statutory duty must, under the regulation, employees can ask for a change in their contractual working pattern. Employers have a statutory duty to consider each request seriously, but they can reject a request if there is a clear business reason for doing so.
This extension by of a year to apply to all parents of children up to the age of 18 is expected to impact on a further 300,000 employees.
The government have also gone a stage further with their ongoing review of employment legislation and announced that a consultation will also be launched later this year to look specifically at the feasibility of allowing everyone the right to make the request.
Edward Davey, the Employment Relations Minister, said: "We want to help parents and create a fairer, family friendly society. 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'll unveil later this year are much more ambitious but these interim measures will help us learn valuable lessons and are an important first step."
Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone 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."