Work flexibility is made lawOn 27 Nov 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Employers are set to receive half a million extra requests a year forflexible working from parents following proposals announced by the Trade andIndustry Secretary last week. The new rules, based on recommendations by the Government’s Work and ParentsTaskforce, mean that employers will have a legal obligation to considerrequests by working parents for more flexibility. Employers welcomed the measures but raised concerns over whether they wouldgenerate more red tape. The taskforce estimates that 80 per cent of requests will be solved duringdiscussions between employee and employer and claims that only 1 per cent willbe decided by tribunal. The EEF’s deputy director of employment policy, David Yeandle, said thesuggestion that 80 per cent of requests will be solved in talks betweencompanies and staff may be optimistic and believes that Acas will need moreresources to help mediate. Mike Taylor, group HR director at Lorne Stewart, is worried the measureswill lead to unnecessary bureaucracy. “To set up this bureaucratic audittrail is unnecessary,” he said. Bruce Warman, HR director at Vauxhall, backed the flexible working rules,but added, “I hope that bureaucracy won’t be a big problem.” Many HR professionals feel the DTI has taken a common-sense approach. MikeEmmott, employee relations adviser at the CIPD, welcomed the move but alsobacked the employers right to refuse. “The institute welcomes the emphasison sorting out concerns about flexible working through discussion,” hesaid. Professor George Bain, taskforce chairman, believes the proposals willenable employers and employees to find a compromise. By Ross Wigham New guidelines for flexible working requests – Parents with children under sixwill be able to submit a request if they have worked at the firm for six months– An employee must submit the request in writing– The firm must then give the request serious consideration,making a business assessment – The employer must report back at a meeting within four weeks– If a request cannot be accepted employers must explain thebusiness reasons in a letter– The employee has the right to dispute the decision in-house– The employee can then go to a tribunalHow companies must justify thebusiness caseEmployers should give clear businessreasons justifying the rejection of a request based on:– Burden of extra costs to business– Inability to meet customer demand– Inability to organise work within available staffing– Detrimental effect on performance– Inability to find extra staff– Other reasons – to be specifiedwww.dti.gov.uk/er/review.htmFeedbackClare Chapman, group HR director,Tesco “In principle, we support the Government’s legislation tohelp parents balance their work and home lives. However, we are concerned thatthe extent of the legislation is against the spirit of what it is intended toachieve. We think the way it will be implemented will remove much of theflexibility that employers seek to embrace through existing HR policies andwill produce additional challenges to the way they do business.”Bruce Warman, HR director, Vauxhall”It seems like a workable and reasonable solution. Theother idea, that parents get the automatic right to flexible work, was a totalnon-starter. On a production line it can be difficult, but you have to work ata compromise.”Bob Watson, HR director, Bupa “Requiring employers to give requests for flexible workserious consideration is open to all sorts of interpretation. It seems it hasbeen left to tribunals to do it. From our experience it is parents withchildren of school age who require greater flexibility rather than those withchildren aged under six.”Ralph Tribe, HR director, GettyImages”It seems like sensible legislation. All it’s doing ispreventing bosses being totally unreasonable. I don’t think it’s red tapebecause if someone raised a legitimate enquiry you’d respond formally anyway.Issues around family care are sensitive and should be dealt with formally.” Related posts:No related photos.