EEF calls for delay in flexible working plans

Posted on 6 May 2008 by The Manufacturer

EEF has urged the Government to put plans to increase flexible working rights on hold until companies have had the chance to adjust to the current legislation.

A major survey of manufacturers has shown that employers have seen some positive benefits from flexible working, but that the benefits were offset by practical problems associated with the implementation of current legislation.

“Whilst manufacturers have seen benefits from the introduction of flexible working, the last thing they need now is to have to consider more and more requests. They need to be given time before this right is extended to more employees. If it is extended, they are more likely to say ‘no’ and some people who really need to work flexibly could then miss out,” said EEF director of employment and legal affairs Peter Schofield.

EEF says that the legal right to request flexible working should only apply to employees with caring responsibilities, and that first line managers and supervisors should be given more support and advice on handling flexible working arrangements before any consideration is given to extending the current legislation. It then calls for any necessary extension of eligible groups to then be phased in gradually so that employers can cope with the growing number of requests.

The organisation has also suggested that employers should continue to have the ability to reject requests for flexible working on genuine business grounds and that the right to make a request should only apply, as now, after 26 weeks of employment.

“There is a limit to flexibility in any workplace and employers must, as now, be able to say ‘no’ where there are genuine reasons to do so,” Schofield added.