The government has been receiving good responses to its Modern Workplaces consultation that deal with extending flexible working to more employees. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development indicated that even small businesses should be allowed to offer flexible working to their employees. The CIPD expressed concern that the government may exempt micro-businesses and possibly cause a two-tier labour market to evolve.
Comments from the TUC pointed out that removing the statutory requirement to extend flexible work requests to all employees could make it easier for employers to roundly refuse all such requests. The government proposal is based on providing employers the opportunity to use their own management processes and systems to determine such requests.
Only 18 per cent of private firm employees have flexible working options, whereas over one-third of public sector employees use the options. Benefits have been shown to be improved work-life balance and overall better productivity, both important in a period of pay freezes and other challenges to maintaining an optimal staff.
Extending flexible working to micro-businesses and maintaining statutory protection could help toward the pursuit of family friendly practices. Several business groups, including the EEF Manufacturers organisation and the Institute of Directors, are wary of regulatory legislation changes that could bring employers “administrative and financial burden.”