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Proposed Change to Flexible Working Rights to be Scrapped- 18/03/2011
The Government intended to increase the age limit of the child, in respect of whom parents are able to request flexible working, from 16 to 17. It now seems this will not go ahead in an attempt to "reduce red tape" and the costs of imposing further regulations.
There is also speculation that the plan to make flexible working available to all employees, not just parents or those who care for adults, may be scrapped too. However, this is as yet unconfirmed and would not have occurred for a few years in any event.
This about turn by the Coalition is part of a "red-tape revolution" which is said to be in favour of small businesses, as it is believed that the current legal and regulatory system in Britain is detrimental to the ability of small businesses to flourish. As part of the revolution, the Business Secretary will be subjecting 21,000 regulations to review. There will also be a moratorium on the creation of any new domestic regulations as from April, pending completion of the review process.
So, for the moment, it seems that the law will stay as it is. Under section 80F of the Employment Rights Act 1996 there are currently two methods by which an employee, who has been employed for at least 26 weeks, can request flexible working. They must either be the parent of a child under the age of 17 (or 18 if disabled) or they need to care for an adult of 18 or over and have a specific relationship with the child/adult concerned. The right is only for the employee to request flexible working. There is no obligation for the employer to grant the request, so long as they are able to show that there is a permitted reason for the refusal.
We await the Business Secretary's announcement for confirmation of the proposals.