The Government has announced in a consultation document published last month that it will be extending flexible working rights in April next year. It will be implementing the report of Imelda Walsh, who recommended that parents of children up to the age of 16 should have the right to request flexible working arrangements. When first introduced, this right was confined to parents of children under six (or under eighteen if they had a disability). In April 2007 the right was extended to carers of adult dependants.

The Government estimates that the new measures will benefit around 4.5 million employees and will translate into 300,000 additional requests to work flexibly each year. To relieve the administrative burden on businesses it is looking at ways of streamlining the procedures. The current front runner is to remove the legal requirement for written confirmation of the new arrangements when a request is granted. While employers will welcome any reduction in red tape, cutting this particular corner is unlikely to be advisable, particularly for larger businesses.

For the consultation document click here.