By Max Clarke

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) welcomes the commencement, from today, of the six-month process of consigning the Default Retirement Age (DRA) to the dustbin of history.

However, the CIPD is also calling for more immediate action on extending the right to request flexible working to all employees. Such a move would nudge more organisations towards a culture that doesn’t treat flexible working as a women’s issue or a parent’s perk, and instead uses it to engage and motivate workers of all ages and with all kinds of work, life and caring balances to strike.

As a recent Government Impact Assessment shows the economic and business benefits of flexible working far outweigh the costs. The CIPD believes that the benefits of flexible working include higher levels of employee engagement, increased job satisfaction and the retention and attraction of diverse talent, including older workers. The current right to request is available for parents, but it is not only this group who would like to work flexibly - three in 10 (28%) older workers would work longer if allowed to work flexibly, according to CIPD research.

Dianah Worman OBE, CIPD Diversity Adviser, said: “The age of the cliff-edge retirement has finally come to an end and the CIPD applauds the Government for holding its nerve in the face of significant business opposition. However, now more than ever Government also needs to challenge the assumption that flexible working is a regulatory burden. We’re all going to be working longer and businesses have a vested interest in making our time as flexible and productive as possible. Flexible working isn’t a women’s issue or a parents’ perk, it’s a business benefit and it’s time we treated it as such.

“Businesses and Government should not see flexible working as a charitable extra that can be cut back in tougher times. In fact, in difficult economic times the business case for flexible working can be at its strongest. Businesses need flexibility to adapt to fluctuations in market demand and to rise to the challenges of operating in a global marketplace.

“Existing flexible working legislation has encouraged a gradual but noticeable shift in workplace culture, without recourse to an onerous regulatory approach. Removing the “parents only” tag from flexible working legislation won’t force any employer to introduce flexible working that isn’t right for their business. But it might help challenge an unnecessarily rigid nine-to-five, presenteeism approach to work in some firms. Many firms are already going much further than the legislation requires, and are reaping the rewards in terms of improved employee engagement and productivity.”