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CIPD and Equalities and Human Rights Commission Press Releases - Flexible working - October 2008

Delays in flexible working legislation send out completely the wrong message, and will do more harm than good

21 October, 2008

Plans to delay the implementation of legislation to extend the right to request flexible working to the parents of older children send out completely the wrong message, and risk doing more harm than good to UK competitiveness, according to Jackie Orme, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)

Responding to reports that Lord Mandelson has ordered a delay in the implementation of the extension, Jackie Orme said: .

"These reports send out completely the wrong message. They assume that flexible working is a burden on business, and the kind of charitable extra that can be cut back in tougher times. The reality is that flexible working can deliver competitive advantage by improving employee engagement and attracting talented people to organisations that otherwise might remain outside the workforce.

"The existing right to request flexible working is a model example of light-touch regulation that has helped to change attitudes without causing difficulties for businesses. Our research shows that many firms, large and small, are going well beyond the existing regulations in any case - extending flexible working to many more employees than required by law. They recognise the positive impact flexible working policies have on their businesses. But the message sent out by a delay to 'reduce burdens' on business will damage efforts to make the substantial business case for flexible working.

"Our research shows that part-time and flexible workers are happier, more engaged with their work, and therefore more likely to perform better and be more productive. This is exactly what hard pressed employers need in tougher times.

"These proposals are also spectacularly ill-timed for hardworking families struggling to balance work and family responsibilities, and plan budgets that include substantial childcare costs."

* The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is the United Kingdom's leading professional body for those involved in the management and development. They have 130,000 individual members and their objectives are to lead in the development and promotion of good practice in the field of the management and development of people, for application both by professional members and by their organisational colleagues.

Source: CIPD

Flexible working is vital in economic downturn

21 October, 2008

The Commission today said that flexible working is vital to a modern economy preparing for the turbulent times ahead.

Speaking as a new survey of mothers and fathers sponsored by the Commission reveals high levels of demand from parents, Nicola Brewer, the chief executive of the Commission, said that flexible working is not a business cost but a business opportunity

Nicola Brewer, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: 'In tough times, business needs all the support it can get - and keeping businesses going keeps people in jobs.

'Companies will be looking to make the most productive and flexible use of their workforce. Genuinely flexible working - working smarter, often through informally agreed small changes to the organisation of work, not rigid, inflexible patterns - is part of the solution, not part of the problem. Flexibility provides business opportunities to deal with turbulent times.

'The Equality and Human Rights Commission is disappointed to see the old fashioned argument being made that flexibility has to be a burden, instead of a potential way to increase productivity in Britain. It need not be a business cost. It can be a business opportunity.

'Our Working Better initiative is about being innovative about how, where and when work is done, in a way that's sustainable for business and individuals. It is about retaining talent and letting it flourish, it is about preparing positively for the long term, not reacting negatively to the short term. As the Homefront survey reveals today, hard working parents are demanding this approach. It is not a time to be abandoning support for approaches that help them balance the needs of work and family."

'We need to increase the skills and the confidence of managers to have the conversations with their staff that unlock that genuine flexibility. Doing that would be a real investment in Britain's ability to weather the current economic and financial storms - and to raise productivity and confidence. '

According to the 'Homefront' survey conducted by Mumsnet and Dad Info, two of Britain's leading parenting groups, and sponsored by the Commission:

  • 83% of dads and 86% of mums say they would like some sort of flexible working.
  • 71% of dads and 68% of mums say the family doesn’t have the working arrangement they would prefer.

Justine Roberts, Co-Founder of Mumsnet said: 'Mums and Dads are saying loud and clear that they need the option of flexible working to make family life work. It would be short-sighted of the Government to renege on its promises on flexible working as in effect they are delaying an investment in the parenting of our children, children who, after all, are the country’s future workforce.'

Duncan Fisher, Director of Dad Info said: 'In a recession parents will have to work longer hours to earn money for their families. This means flexible working is all the more important for child welfare in a recession.'

Notes regarding this Press Release:

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourage compliance with the Human Rights Act. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.

Source: The Equality and Human Rights Commission

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