Government announces extension of flexible working rights and a new flexible parental leave systemWednesday, October 6th, 2010
On 30 September, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced the Government’s plans to develop flexible, family-friendly workplaces. These include:
- the extension of flexible working (i.e. the right to request a contractual change to working hours, times of work and place of work) to parents of children under age 18, from April 2011, and
- a consultation later this year with proposals to extend flexible working to all employees and introduce a new system of flexible parental leave.
Currently, flexible working rights are available to some 10.5 million employees, i.e.
- parents, adopters, guardians etc, of children under age 17, and
- parents, adopters, guardians etc, of disabled children under 18, and
- carers of certain persons aged 18 and over.
The April 2011 change will, therefore, simplify the rules somewhat and is expected to benefit some 300,000 employees.
Longer term, however, the proposals for further change are described as “much more ambitious” and “a long process involving wide-ranging change”.
Although not specifically stated, the intention appears to be to replace the existing maternity, paternity and adoption leave rights with “a system of flexible parental leave”. The new Additional Paternity Leave provisions, which also take effect from April 2011 are described in the announcement as an “interim measure” for encouraging shared parenting.