In 2003 the Government introduced a right for those with parental responsibility for children under six (or 18 if disabled) to request flexible working, with a statutory obligation on employers to consider such requests seriously.

This right was extended to carers of adults from April 2007.

In May the Government announced its intention to extend the right to request to parents with children aged 16 and under. The intention is for this increase in the age cut off is to be introduced in a single step in April 2009 rather than as phased increase.

On 26th August the Government launched a consultation seeking views on:

  • methods of raising awareness of the right to request flexible working amongst the workforce. The Government is keen to target groups with little or no knowledge of their right to request a contractual variation to enable them to work flexibly including fathers and carers;
  • methods of making it easier for employers to deal with requests. In particular views are sought as to how to reduce the paperwork involved and on a proposal to scrap the requirement that employers write formally to staff to advise them that their request has been accepted;
  • how to increase knowledge of the range of free on-line tools available to make dealing with requests simpler and quicker for business.

The consultation closes on 18 November 2008.