Minister calls for wider flexible working rights
British government ministers are considering giving all employees the right to ask for flexible working hours "from the beginning" of a new job as part of plans to encourage a fundamental shift in working habits.
The Work and Pensions Secretary, Yvette Cooper, says her office is
working with employers and organisations such as the federation of small
businesses to draw up new ways of supporting men as well as women and
non-parents as well as parents working more flexible hours.
The current rules are limited to parents of children under 16 and
carers, and Cooper wants to extend them. "You want people to offer
flexible working from the beginning and we need to look again at how the
legislation can support different ways of doing that," she said.
"There will be some areas where it's not possible to fit round
particular school hours or particular things where the nature of the
business makes it hard - but what you need is the cultural change for
everybody to think differently." Cooper's proposals come as the
government announced that fathers will be given the right to six months'
There will be a legal right to take the mother's place at home for the
last three months of a nine-month maternity break; they would receive
£123 a week in statutory pay. Fathers would then be entitled to take a
further three months' unpaid leave. The move was criticised by some
(From: The Guardian, Friday 29 January 2010 -slightly adapted)
Ms Cooper hopes her new proposals will give more flexible working hours
a) from the outset, to workers of both genders.
b) to fathers of babies, concurrently with mothers.
c) after six months, to those established in their jobs.
d) to senior staff who want to start a family.
e) to parents and youth workers up to the age of sixteen.