By Marcus Leach

The right to request flexible working should be extended to all employees and the Government should stick to its implementation timetable of 2015.

Flexible working benefits both employers and employees and the Government should resist pressure to create a two-tier labour market through exempting micro-businesses and start-ups.

This is the argument set out in the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) response to the Modern Workplaces consultation.

“Extending the right to request flexible working to all employees is long overdue. Restricting it to groups of parents and carers creates a mistaken assumption that flexibility is a perk that is good for some but not others," Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser, CIPD, said.

“The truth is that many employers — large and small — have anticipated the Government’s proposal and are willing to consider requests from any employee. They see the business benefits of helping employees balance their work with their lifestyle and personal commitments, at a time when organisations need to be driving competitive edge through their people.

"Organisations have grasped the reality that an employee who gives everything they can within flexible working hours offers more than someone reluctantly working a ‘typical’ working day because that is all that is on offer.

“We are concerned that the Government has even considered exempting micro-businesses and start-ups from the proposals — particularly when the regulations will come into effect after the current three-year moratorium. Excluding businesses of any size from the application of employment regulation would tend towards the creation of a two-tier labour market and could be a perverse disincentive for small businesses to expand.

“We believe that the flexible working regulations are a great example of light-touch legislation and we see no case for excluding micro-businesses and start-ups when the regulations are extended.”

The CIPD also responded on the issue of parental leave and pay and whether it should be available to mothers and fathers on an equal basis.

“CIPD members support the direction of travel outlined in the flexible parental leave proposals," Emmott continued.

"We believe that encouraging fathers to play a bigger role in bringing up children will help more women fulfil their potential in the workplace and have a positive impact in tackling deep-seated issues, such as discrimination in recruitment, equal pay and women in the boardroom. Without more equal sharing of parental leave and pay, it is unlikely that the current division of caring responsibilities will shift.”

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