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New flexible working rights 'won't help' those with stubborn bosses

NEW RULES that give workers the right to request flexible working need teeth to deal with intractable bosses, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said yesterday.

Measures that take effect today extend flexible working to all employees — helping people balance their work with other responsibilities, making it easier to hold down jobs and stay with the same company.

But Ms O’Grady warned that some workers would not see the benefits.

“If they have an employer who gets why flexible working makes sense, workers who want to take time out to train, volunteer in a local community project, or simply avoid travelling at rush hour will now be able to transform their lives.

“But those with old-fashioned bosses who expect all staff to stick to the same rigid hours day-in day-out and always be in the office won’t be so lucky.

“Unfortunately the right to request is only the right to ask nicely. There is nothing to stop employers saying no.”

Any request will have to be considered in a “reasonable manner” by employers, while the process is being made simpler.

Conciliation service Acas has published a code of practice to help employers understand the extension to the right and how to process requests.

Chairman Brendan Barber said: “Our experience from working with thousands of employers is that flexible working is both good for business and employees.

“The new code will help employers handle flexible working requests in a reasonable manner and fit their specific circumstances.”

Bosses’ group the Federation of Small Businesses criticised the decision, claiming that many “already offer flexible working … without the need for a right to request.”


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