Flexible working is not a given, a leading employment solicitor says

Millions of employees are set to benefit from plans announced by the government to incorporate more parents into flexible working measures. The measures are part of a consultation announced by employment relations minister Pat McFadden that will encourage businesses to make flexible working applications quicker and easier.


Under the present system only parents of children under six years older have the right to apply for flexible working hours, provisions that cover 3.6 million workers. Parents are eligible when they have been in the job for six months but employers can refuse a request if business interests are at stake.


The provisions currently cover 3.6 million workers but the proposed extension to cover parents of children up to the age of 16 will bring a further 4.5 million employees into the scheme.


Speaking to Director magazine, employment lawyer, Rachel Dineley, head of the diversity and discrimination unit at  law firm Beachcroft, said it was important that businesses understood that the right to request flexible working was simply the right to request – not a right to have it. She said employers had a right to refuse a request for flexible working as long as they can give one of eight valid reasons for doing so. She said small businesses often did not understand this and were worried about the consequences of refusal.

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